Iniesta proves he’s man with big talent and a big heart to match; Barca’s midfield midget is rival fans’ hero.

But also that his humility sets him apart from most

modern-day footballers.

The Barca coach was also humbled by the reception Iniesta received.

He said: “Andres deserves it and I’d like to thank the

Espanyol fans.

. Cristian Zapata’s own goal in

88 minutes gave Edoardo Reja’s side a priceless three points.

He said: “It’s always a difficult encounter against

Espanyol but we used the space well and our forwards were really

successful on the night.

Napoli moved to within three point of Milan after a late Edinson

Cavani goal earned them a 1-0 home win over Lecce.

HUMBLED: Guardiola CLASS APART Iniesta controls the play against

derby rivals Espanyol but the home fans, below, heaped praise on the

Barca star following his tribute to their former player in the World Cup

Final, bottom

Doubles from David Villa and Pedro along with a Xavi strike sealed

the points for Pep Guardiola’s side who maintained their lead at

the top of La Liga.

“Far more important than any rivalry is the people. They have

sent me many messages and that is much more important to me.”

As he celebrated his famous goal Iniesta unveiled the words

”Dani Jarque, you are always with us” and fans of

Barca’s city rivals will never forget it.

“This club has given me and my family everything.

There was drama at the Weserstadion as Kaiserslautern beat Werder

Bremen 2-1 in a fiery clash. And one which highlights why he’s now the clear

favourite to win FIFA’s coveted Ballon D’Or – the award for

the world’s best player.

Despite the fact Iniesta helped destroy them with another polished

display at the Cornella-El Prat Stadium – they gave the midfielder a

standing ovation when he was substituted.

The Spaniard is now 4-7 with the bookies to lift the trophy ahead

of Barcelona team-mates Xavi (6-4) and Lionel Messi (8-1).

Roma moved into the chasing pack with a crucial win over leaders AC

Milan. I’d

like to think my best moments on the pitch are still ahead of me and I

still think I can give more.”

And the good news for Guardiola is that after another sparkling

display from Barcelona, Iniesta revealed he’d like to spend the

rest of his career at the Nou Camp.

After falling into fifth spot in the league, he said: “We gave

our all on the pitch but we had a great team in front of us.”

It was a special moment for Iniesta, who was a close friend of

Jarque’s. Aaron Hunt cancelled out Srdan Lakic’s

early penalty before the Croatian striker hit a second-half winner but

both sides were then reduced to 10 men when Alex Bugera and Sandro

Wagner saw red.

In Italy, Lazio stayed joint second in Serie A after a 3-2 victory

over Udinese at the Olympic Stadium. Loan star Marco Borriello returned to the San Siro to haunt his

parent club as he grabbed the winner for the visitors.

CAPTION(S):

Athletic Bilbao beat Levante 2-1 and Sporting Gijon salvaged a draw

against Deportivo La Coruna thanks to Diego Castro’s 89th minute

equaliser.

“We feel that Iniesta reflects what our club as an institution

is all about.”

Espanyol boss Javier Marquez – whose side had only lost two goals

at home all season until meeting Barca could only hold his hands up and

admit they lost to a superior team.

That will be a scary thought for the rest of La Liga as Barcelona

continue to set the pace at the top of the table.

Byline: SCOTT McDERMOTT

Elsewhere in Spain, Valencia snatched a 2-1 win at Real Sociedad

thanks to an Aritz Aduriz’s stoppage-time goal while Villarreal

beat Real Mallorca 3-1 with Nilmar, Santi Cazorla and Guiseppe Rossi all

on target for the home side.

“It would be special to end my time as a player at Barca – but

it depends on how I perform over the next few years.

Iniesta endeared himself to every supporter in Spain when he hit

the winning goal in the World Cup Final against Holland in the summer.

After helping put Espanyol to the sword, the 26-year-old said:

“I felt something from the fans when I was on the pitch and

that’s the greatest thing about it.

In Germany, runaway leaders Borrusia Dortmund suffered a surprise

1-0 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt with Greek striker Theofanis Gekas

hitting a late winner.

But the 26-year-old showed he was a class apart when he displayed a

touching message under his shirt in honour of tragic Espanyol star

Daniel Jarque who died after suffering a heart attack last August, aged

just 26.

BARCELONA superstar Andres Iniesta proved two things during the

Catalan side’s 5-1 demolition of derby rivals Espanyol at the

weekend.

That not only is the diminutive midfielder one of the world’s

greatest players

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