Inspired Messi sees Barcelona to comfortable derby win

Jose Verdugo
Diciembre 9, 2018

But, after 17 minutes, another moment of brilliance from Messi broke the deadlock.

Suarez and Messi hit the post in quick succession as Espanyol completely failed to cope with Barca's attacking movement and sublime passing, a third goal arriving before the break.

It was 2-0 on 26 minutes when Messi picked out Dembele in the Espanyol penalty area and the France global cut back inside to curl the ball past Lopez. This time, Lopez didn't even get close to making a save.

That allowed Atletico Madrid, who recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory over fourth-placed Alaves, to briefly move level on points with the top two.

Duarte thought he had netted a consolation for his side as he prodded home Sergio Garcia's free-kick at the far post, only for the goal to be disallowed after a lengthy VAR review.

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The visitors went into the game knowing that a win would take them three points clear at the top of the LaLiga table and they duly did their bit as they cut their opponents to ribbons in the opening 45.

Messi was in fine form against derby rivals Espanyol. Pele said this week Messi has "one leg" and a strong preference for his left perhaps remains his only slight weakness, Lopez saving a relatively tame effort with his right in the second half.

The Argentina star finished fifth in this week's Ballon d'Or voting behind Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Cristiano Ronaldo and victor Luka Modric.

- Luis Suarez has scored eight goals in nine appearances against Espanyol in La Liga - only against Real Madrid and Real Betis (nine) has he scored more often in the competition.

Lionel Messi scored twice from free kicks in a league match for the first time in his career on Saturday, leading Barcelona to a 4-0 rout of Espanyol in the Spanish league.

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