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Monday, Dec. 20, 2010

News photo
Ole!: Barca's Lionel Messi duels for the ball against a pair of Espanyol players on Saturday. AP PHOTO

Barcelona crushes Espanyol in Catalan derby

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona obliterated Espanyol's home dominance with braces by Pedro Rodriguez and David Villa to claim the Catalan capital derby 5-1 and provisionally move five points clear of second-place Real Madrid in the Spanish League on Saturday.

Espanyol had conceded only two goals in its seven victories at El Prat-Cornella Stadium, but Barcelona needed just 30 minutes to double that number and beat the best home side in the league.

Rodriguez raced by the pair of Espanyol center backs to slot a ball from Lionel Messi past a diving Carlos Kameni for Barcelona's 19th-minute opener.

Xavi Hernandez added the second at the half-hour mark, smashing in a rebound of his own pass from the right side of the area with very little angle after a nice buildup from his teammates.

After jeering the Barcelona players as they were announced, the 40,000-seat stadium saluted Andres Iniesta with a standing ovation for his dedication of his World Cup-winning goal to the former Espanyol defender Daniel Jarque, who died of a heart attack in 2009.

Earlier, Giuseppe Rossi piloted Villarreal to a 3-1 win over Mallorca.

Also, Athletic Bilbao beat Levante 2-1, and Deportivo La Coruna drew 1-1 with Sporting Gijon.

Sunderland rises

LONDON (AP) As snowstorms wiped out most English Premier League matches on Saturday, West Ham drew at Blackburn to remain frozen to the bottom of the standings and Sunderland's push for Europe heated up with a victory over Bolton.

Junior Stanislas salvaged a 1-1 draw for West Ham by canceling out Ryan Nelsen's scrappy goal for Blackburn, but the point will do little to secure the future of either teams' managers.

Avram Grant's West Ham remains stranded three points from safety having played one less game than its relegation rivals.

And Steve Kean is hoping to be handed the Blackburn job permanently following Sam Allardyce's firing this week.

At the top of the table, Sunderland leapfrogged Bolton into sixth place after Danny Welbeck header's clinched a 1-0 win.

They were the only two matches played on Saturday after a blast of heavy snow hit England.

Sunderland is now level on 27 points with fifth-place Tottenham.

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