Messi dou­ble brings Barcelona re­lief

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona recorded their first win in four La Liga games to close to within three points of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with a 3-0 win at Osasuna.

Barca should have killed the game off in the first half as Luis Suarez and Messi missed two big chances each against La Liga’s bot­tom side. How­ever, Suarez rounded off a fine team move to break the dead­lock just be­fore the hour be­fore Messi’s dou­ble in the fi­nal 17 min­utes moved him ahead of Cris­tiano Ron­aldo as La Liga’s top scorer with 11 for the sea­son.

Real can ex­tend their lead once more and set a new club record un­beaten run of 35 games when they host De­portivo la Coruna later. “We are Barcelona and we know we can never give up,” Suarez told BeIN Sports Spain.

“We are can­di­dates to win the league, it doesn’t mat­ter if we are four, five, six or seven points be­hind, we won’t give up.”

Barca were in des­per­ate need of a lift af­ter con­ced­ing in the last minute to Real in last week­end’s El Cla­sico. The Cata­lans’ up­turn in per­for­mance since cap­tain An­dres Ini­esta’s re­turn from a six-week in­jury lay­off con­tin­ued in the first half at Osasuna, but Barca were in dan­ger of pay­ing for their profli­gacy in front of goal. Suarez fired wide when through on goal and then hit the post in­side 20 min­utes. Osasuna re­main five points off safety and it was easy to see why they are still without a home win all sea­son as the hosts were opened up at will.

Suarez turned provider for Messi, but Nauzet Perez rushed from his goal to block. And the goal­keeper frus­trated the five-time World Player of the Year again mo­ments later by just rais­ing a hand in time to di­vert Messi’s at­tempted chip be­hind.

“We were pa­tient and gen­er­ated a lot of chances,” said Barca boss Luis En­rique. “It was key to go in front and calm our­selves down. “The goals came in the sec­ond-half, but we de­served to go in front in the first-half and have a much eas­ier game.”

Ser­gio Leon gave Barca a scare at the start of the sec­ond-half when his bril­liant lob over Marc-An­dre ter Ste­gen came back off the un­der­side of the bar.

Barca cre­ated fewer chances in the sec­ond half, but were more clin­i­cal. Ser­gio Bus­quets and Messi com­bined to re­lease Jordi Alba on the left and his low cross was rolled into an un­guarded net by Suarez de­spite Osasuna calls for off­side.

The sec­ond goal came about in sim­i­lar fash­ion 13 min­utes later as Alba again got to the by-line and his cross was volleyed home by Messi at the near post.

And Messi didn’t need any help for his sec­ond in stop­page time as he wrig­gled clear of three Osasuna de­fend­ers and left Perez on the floor be­fore lift­ing the ball high into the net.

Va­len­cia re­main above the rel­e­ga­tion zone only on goal dif­fer­ence de­spite more penalty hero­ics from goal­keeper Diego Alves in a 3-2 de­feat at Real So­ciedad. Alves saved the 23rd penalty of 47 he has faced in Span­ish foot­ball from Car­los Vela, but it mat­tered lit­tle as a Wil­lian Jose dou­ble and Juanmi’s in­jury time strike moved So­ciedad up to fourth.

Va­len­cia have won just one game in eight since for­mer Italy boss Ce­sare Pran­delli took charge in Oc­to­ber. — AFP

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