Lionel Messi scored a double for Barcelona to ensure they beat rivals Espanyol in the Catalan derby on Saturday.
Ernesto Valverde’s side knew that a win would extend their lead to 13 points over Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga table and they ensured that with a double from the league’s top scorer, Messi.
In truth, Espanyol made life hard for Barca in the first 45 minutes, forcing the home side to snatch at chances and attempt long range efforts.
The game headed to the break at 0-0 and that prompted Valverde to make two changes that would allow Barca to play a little bit more attacking, hauling on Malcom for Arthur and Sergi Roberto for Nelson Semedo.
The change paid off as it allowed Barca to play with more freedom and that opened up the first goal as Messi grabbed space before being hauled down by Victor Sanchez.
The Argentine has been in formidable form this term and he placed the resulting free-kick right down the centre of the goal to make it 1-0.
With twenty minutes remaining on the clock from that moment, Espanyol did push Barca but to seal all three points – Messi added his second of the game.
Malcom was involved this time, crossing the ball in for Barca’s number 10, who calmly stroked the ball home.