Barca, Messi struggle to beat Espanyol 1-0

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Alexis Sanchez scored off a cross from Neymar in the 68th minute, and Spanish league leader Barcelona defeated city rival Espanyol 1-0 Friday night.

Lionel Messi, who has been bothered by right leg injury, failed to score for a third straight league match - something that hadn't happened since April 30-May 11, 2011.

''I don't think Messi is worried, nor do I think he's looking ahead to the World Cup,'' Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino said. ''What's happening is that he places the bar so high that when he doesn't score there appears to be a problem. But I don't see any problems.''

Barcelona (11-0-1) opened a four-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid (10-1), which hosts Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. Third-place Real Madrid (8-2-1) trails by nine points going into Saturday's match at Rayo Vallecano.


BERLIN (AP) - Robert Lewandowski scored a hat trick and added an assist to lead Borussia Dortmund to a 6-1 rout of Stuttgart and into the Bundesliga lead.

Karim Haggui scored in the 13th minute on the visitors' only corner kick of the night. Sokratis tied the score in the 19th and Marco Reus put Dortmund ahead three minutes later.

Lewandowski scored off Reus' back-heel pass in the 54th and again a minute later off a Henrikh Mkhitaryan feed. He added his ninth league goal of the season after Jakub Blaszczykowski's shot was knocked off the crossbar by

Sven Ulreich, then assisted on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal in the 81st.

Dortmund (8-1-1) moved two points ahead of Bayern Munich (8-0-2), which plays at Hoffenheim on Saturday.


PARIS (AP) - Edinson Cavani scored twice to help Paris Saint-Germain beat Lorient 4-0 in the French league.

Lucas volleyed in Lucas Digne's cross in the third minute, Jeremy Menez doubled the lead in the 39th and Cavani added goals in the 42nd and 81st, giving him a league-leading nine goals.

PSG (8-0-4) moved three points ahead of second-place Monaco (7-0-4), which plays at Lille on Sunday.