These spectacular saves on Lionel Messi could alter the La Liga title race

Sunday January 19th, 2014

Keylor Navas Keylor Navas' Levante side are in the midst of a solidly mid-table season in La Liga. (Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Have you heard of Keylor Navas? If you're a keen follower of a CONCACAF national team, you might have. The Costa Rica goalkeeper backstops one of the region's strongest teams, has put in some remarkable performances, and was named best goalkeeper at the 2009 Gold Cup.

Now he may have had a hand (literally) in shifting the La Liga title race.

Navas, playing with his club Levante, was in brilliant form on Sunday, making several key stops against Barcelona to hold the Catalans to a 1-1 draw away from home. But the pick of the litter was no doubt this sensational double stop, which saw him deny Lionel Messi not once but twice, including a frantic diving one-handed deflection after Juanfran cleared a Cesc Fabregas effort off the goal line.

Here it is GIFed, to watch over and over and ask "how the **** did he get to that?"

Those saves kept the things at 1-1, and though Barcelona would continue to apply pressure, that would end up being the final score. To understand the impact those saves could have on the title race, one need only look at the top of the La Liga table after the game.

Barcelona's lead over Real Madrid goes from two points to one. And their lead over Atlético Madrid could be reversed entirely -- with a win against Sevilla in the day's late game, Atlético can go top of the league. [UPDATE -- A second-half Sevilla penalty by Ivan Rakitic held Atlético to a 1-1 draw, meaning Barça is tied on points with Atlético but ahead on goal difference at the La Liga summit]. 

And if they do rise to pole position



They didn't], they should think about sparing a "thanks" for Navas [

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