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Spanish La Liga: Messi strikes twice in 2nd half to keep Barcelona near top

Lionel Messi got here via for Barcelona once more, holding the Spanish league’s title race broad open.

Messi scored two second-half objectives on Sunday — together with his fiftieth from a free kick — as Barcelona got here from behind to beat Valencia 3-2 and get inside two factors of chief Atletico Madrid forward of their key match on the Camp Nou Stadium subsequent weekend.

A win will give Ronald Koeman’s workforce the league lead for the primary time this season.

Antoine Griezmann additionally scored for Barcelona, which is tied on factors with second-place Madrid with 4 rounds to go. Madrid has a greater head-to-head tiebreaker towards each rivals on the top. Sevilla additionally stays in the title race. It can transfer inside three factors of the lead if it beats Athletic Bilbao at residence on Monday. Sevilla visits Madrid subsequent weekend.

Barcelona made the journey to Valencia beneath strain after each Atletico and Madrid received their matches on Saturday Atletico edged Elche 1-0 and Madrid defeated Osasuna 2-0. The Catalan membership was coming off a shock 2-1 residence loss to Granada on Thursday, when it may have grabbed sole possession of the lead.

“It was an important win to keep us in the fight after that unexpected loss,” Barcelona captain Gerard Pique stated.

“We’ll try to win next weekend and take the lead. It’s in our hands.”

The strain elevated Sunday after Valencia opened the scoring on the Mestalla Stadium with Gabriel Paulista’s purpose in the fiftieth minute. The midfielder beat Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet to the ball for a simple header by the far publish. Video overview was used to test on a attainable foul away from the ball however the purpose stood.

Messi led Barcelona’s restoration.

The Argentina star equalized in the 57th in the fallout of his personal penalty kick after his poor shot from the spot was saved by Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen. Barcelona midfielders Sergio Busquets and Pedri Gonzalez each had makes an attempt earlier than Messi received to the free ball and scored from shut vary.

Highlights:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNTlnX8Vfnc

Griezmann netted the go-ahead purpose six minutes later off one other save from Cillessen. The former Barcelona goalkeeper stopped a header from Frenkie De Jong however Griezmann got here in unmarked to rating simply.

Messi’s second purpose got here with a superbly struck free kick that curled over the wall and hit the publish earlier than going into the online in the 69th. His milestone fiftieth purpose from a free kick elevated his tally on the top of the league’s scoring charts, leaving him on 28 objectives.

It was Messi’s ninth double in the league this season, and third in his final 5 matches in all competitions.

Valencia pulled one nearer with a long-range strike by Carlos Soler in the 83rd but it surely couldn’t discover the equalizer.

Koeman was not on the bench after being despatched off for complaining in the loss towards Granada.

OTHER RESULTS

Villarreal moved to sixth place by beating Getafe 1-0 at residence thanks to a late winner from Yeremi Pino. Villarreal coach Unai Emery rested some common starters forward of the second leg of the Europa League semifinals towards Arsenal on Thursday. The Spanish membership received the primary leg 2-1 at residence.

Seventh-place Real Betis was held 1-1 at relegation-threatened Valladolid, whereas Granada adopted its shock win over Barcelona with a 1-0 residence loss towards Cadiz.

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