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9 December, 2018 09:34:03 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 9 December, 2018 09:40:17 AM
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Messi scores twice as Barcelona win against Espanyol

Independent Online/ theguardian
Messi scores twice as Barcelona win against Espanyol
Photo: BBC

Lionel Messi scored two brilliant free-kicks as Barcelona opened up a three-point lead at the top of La Liga after coasting to a 4-0 win at derby rivals Espanyol. Following Sevilla’s 1-1 draw at Valencia in which the hosts hit a dramatic equaliser in stoppage time, Barcelona made no mistake at the RCDE Stadium, racing to a 3-0 lead by half-time.

Messi opened the scoring with a fine free-kick before Ousmane Dembélé doubled the lead on 26 minutes and Luis Suárez scored from the tightest of angles just before half-time. The Barcelona captain, who finished only fifth in this year’s Ballon d’Or vote, curled in another superb dead-ball strike on 65 minutes to cap a fine individual and team performance.

The Barcelona manager, Ernesto Valverde, whose side host Tottenham in their final Champions League group game on Tuesday night, had warned of a “trial by fire” in the buildup to the derby fixture and things could have been different had Borja Iglesias not shot wide early on. But after 17 minutes another moment of brilliance from Messi broke the deadlock.

The Espanyol defender Óscar Duarte fouled the Barcelona playmaker 25 yards out in a central position. Messi got up to send the resulting free-kick over the wall and into the top-right corner. The goalkeeper Diego López saved from Suárez, who had been given the all-clear to play following a knee problem, as Barcelona looked to swiftly double their lead.

In a rare moment of action in the Barcelona penalty area, Victor Sánchez’s header dropped wide of the far post. It was 2-0 on 26 minutes when Messi picked out Dembélé in the Espanyol penalty area and the France international cut back inside to curl the ball past López.

Espanyol looked for a way back into the match as Duarte’s downward header at the far post was blocked by Marc-André ter Stegen. Suárez struck a post before Ivan Rakitic saw his point-blank header saved, with Messi’s header from the rebound coming back off the other upright.

It was, though, 3-0 just before the break. Suárez was sent away into the left side of the penalty area. The Uruguay forward held off the defender David López and somehow, from the tightest of angles, stabbed the ball between the legs of the goalkeeper and in off the far post.

Espanyol went looking for a lifeline at the start of the second half, but Barcelona remained dangerous on the break. Dembélé was sent clear before feeding Messi in a crowded Espanyol penalty area and his shot was blocked by Diego López.

On 65 minutes, Messi made Espanyol pay again for another needless foul which gave away a free-kick 25 yards out, to the left of centre. The Argentina forward dispatched another brilliant left-foot effort over the wall and into the top corner.

Barcelona were caught out at the back in the 74th minute when Duarte stabbed the ball in at close range from a free-kick. However, following a lengthy review from the VAR, the goal was ruled out for a marginal offside.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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