Two second-half goals from Lionel Messi secured a Barcelona victory over its local rival Espanyol.
Two second-half goals from Lionel Messi secured a Barcelona victory over its local rival Espanyol and extended the club's lead in La Liga's standings.
The visitors were resilient, especially in the first half as the Argentine star could not find the back of the net despite the opportunities. But as the game developed, Espanyol began to lose its legs and become more frustrated by the leaguer leader.
In the 71st minute, Messi broke the deadlock and grabbed the lead thanks to a free-kick that could have been saved by Diego Lopez, but due to a defender on the line, the goalkeeper was unable to save the shot as his own teammate aided the attempt. It was, however, a fantastic finish as Messi fooled his opponents with a delicate shot, making it almost panenka-esque.
Just before the end of regular time, Messi completed his brace and secured three points for his side. After Marc-Andre ter Stegen found Ivan Rakitic, the midfielder fed Brazilian winger Malcom, who found Messi to make it 2-0.
Barcelona maintains its strong lead atop of the table while Messi secured his 10th straight season with at least 40 goals in all competitions.