Messi back to score in Barcelona victory in Spain, Vardy breaks drought for Leicester in EPL



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Lionel Messi returned from a brief injury break to help Barcelona take the overnight lead in Spain, while Jamie Vardy found his scoring touch to boost Leicester's English Premier League title chase on Saturday.

Showing no signs of any lingering muscle pain that kept him from playing midweek in the Copa del Rey, Messi scored an acrobatic goal to help Barcelona earn a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Malaga.

Vardy scored as Leicester beat Stoke 3-0 to move a provisional three points clear at the top of the English standings, before Arsenal hosts Chelsea on Sunday.

Meanwhile, boos rang out again at Old Trafford after Manchester United was stunned 1-0 by Southampton, and Manchester City also slipped by drawing 2-2 at West Ham.

Here is a look at Europe's top leagues on Saturday:


SPAIN

Messi made a pass for Luis Suarez to set up Munir El Haddadi's opening goal in the second minute at La Rosaleda Stadium.

After Malaga's pressure led to Juan "Juanpi" Anor leveling, Messi restored Barcelona's advantage for good with a skillful scissor kick after halftime. The goal took his league tally to 11 and his 20th in all competitions this season.

Barcelona moved one point ahead of Atletico Madrid before it plays Sevilla on Sunday. Barcelona, which also has a game to play, hosts Atletico in the next round.

Also Saturday, fourth-place Villarreal drew 2-2 at Espanyol, while Rayo Vallecano defeated fifth-place Celta Vigo, and Granada edged Getafe 3-2.


ENGLAND

Having set the record for scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League games earlier in the season, Vardy ended a goal drought exceeding 10 hours. Danny Drinkwater and Leonardo Ulloa scored either side of Vardy's 66th-minute goal.

Louis van Gaal's United went an 11th home game in a row without scoring in the first half and then conceded after the break when Charlie Austin netted on his Southampton debut.

United remains fifth but is five points behind Tottenham, which came from behind to win 3-1 at Crystal Palace.

The biggest scoring game of the day was on the east coast with a nine-goal thriller, including two in stoppage time. After Norwich threw away a 3-1 lead in the second half to Liverpool, Sebastian Bassong thought he had secured a 4-4 draw. But in the fourth minute of injury time, Adam Lallana scored his first goal of the season to clinch a 5-4 victory for 7th-place Liverpool.

City remains third, with only one win in eight league games on the road. Sergio Aguero canceled out goals from Enner Valencia, who put West Ham ahead after only 53 seconds and then seized on a long throw-in that City failed to defend in the second half.

Elsewhere, Watford beat Newcastle 2-1, Sunderland was held 1-1 by Bournemouth, and bottom-place Aston Villa drew 0-0 with West Bromwich Albion.


GERMANY

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored one goal and set up another for Borussia Dortmund to win 3-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach and stay eight points behind Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich.

Also, striker Hugo Almeida scored on his return to the Bundesliga but couldn't prevent his new club Hannover from slumping to a 2-1 home loss to Darmstadt.

Stuttgart came from behind to win at Cologne 3-1 and climb out of the relegation zone.

Third-place Hertha Berlin drew 0-0 with Augsburg, Bayer Leverkusen drew 1-1 at Hoffenheim, and Ingolstadt defeated Mainz 1-0.


ITALY

AC Milan twice surrendered the lead and was held to a 2-2 draw at Empoli in an entertaining match in Serie A.

Milan took the lead through Carlos Bacca and Giacomo Bonaventura but Piotr Zielinski and Massimo Maccarone each time canceled out the visitors' goals.

Milan remained sixth, with Empoli one point behind.

Second-from-bottom Frosinone also drew 0-0 against Atalanta.


FRANCE

Led by two brilliant goals from Angel di Maria, Paris Saint-Germain continued its march to a fourth-straight title by crushing Angers 5-1 to provisionally move 24 points clear at the top of the French league.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic put PSG ahead in the 32nd minute. Di Maria capped an outstanding performance with two goals midway through the second half, after Brazilian winger Lucas and right back Gregory van der Wiel had scored either side of halftime.

PSG has not lost for 31 league games in total going back to last season. Saturday's win was also PSG's 11th straight in all competitions — equaling the club record.

Nice rallied to beat Lorient 2-1 at home and is provisionally level in second place with Monaco.

Also, it was: Lille 1, Troyes 3; Montpellier 1, Caen 2; Guingamp 1, Bastia 0; and Nantes 2, Bordeaux 2.

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