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

Lionel Messi got here by way of for Barcelona once more, protecting the Spanish league’s title race huge open.

Messi scored two second-half targets on Sunday — together with his 50th 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 prime. Sevilla additionally stays within the title race. It might probably transfer inside three factors of the lead if it beats Athletic Bilbao at dwelling on Monday. Sevilla visits Madrid subsequent weekend.

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

“It was an necessary win to maintain us within the combat after that sudden loss,” Barcelona captain Gerard Pique mentioned.

“We’ll attempt to win subsequent weekend and take the lead. It’s in our arms.”

The stress elevated Sunday after Valencia opened the scoring on the Mestalla Stadium with Gabriel Paulista’s aim within the 50th minute. The midfielder beat Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet to the ball for a simple header by the far publish. Video evaluation was used to examine on a attainable foul away from the ball however the aim stood.

Messi led Barcelona’s restoration.

The Argentina star equalized within the 57th within 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 bought to the unfastened ball and scored from shut vary.

Highlights:

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

Messi’s second aim got here with a superbly struck free kick that curled over the wall and hit the publish earlier than going into the web within the 69th. His milestone 50th aim from a free kick elevated his tally on the prime of the league’s scoring charts, leaving him on 28 targets.

It was Messi’s ninth double within 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 within the 83rd nevertheless it couldn’t discover the equalizer.

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

OTHER RESULTS

Villarreal moved to sixth place by beating Getafe 1-Zero at dwelling because of 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 dwelling.

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

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