Messi scored two late goals to give Barcelona a victory over

Barcelona 2-0 Espanyol

Lionel Messi scored twice late second half to give Barcelona a victory over Espanyol, as the leaders go 13 points clear at the top of La Liga.

Messi chipped his first goal from free-kick, Espanyol defender Victor Sanchez failed to head clear as he ran back towards the goal-line.

The Argentine finished off a counter-attack late on to take his tally to 31 goals for the season.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid face Alaves later on Saturday (19:45 GMT).

Messi has scored 22 goals in his last 15 La Liga games, while he has also surpassed 40 goals in a season for the 10th successive time.

He had been an injury doubt for the game after missing Argentina’s friendly with Morocco in mid-week, but showed no ill-effects when he had Barca’s first chance of the game, only to see his shot deflected over the crossbar.

Barca – who face Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals – dominated the first half, with Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez both going close to breaking the deadlock, and it wasn’t until the second half that goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was first troubled, by Oscar Melendo.

Messi’s opener saw Sanchez substituted by Espanyol soon after, before he sealed all three points by slotting home a Malcom cross.



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