Monday 18 December 2017

'Extraordinary' Messi breaks 300 barrier

Lionel Messi led Barcelona to a 2-1 comeback victory with a double strike at lowly Granada in La Liga to take his tally for the club to 301 goals.

The World Player of the Year pounced on a loose ball to level in the 50th minute before netting a superb free-kick for the winner in the 73rd, the 37th goal of the campaign for La Liga's top scorer. Only a last-minute one-on-one save from 'keeper Tono denied Messi a hat-trick.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid kept the gap at 12 points yesterday with a comfortable victory against Real Valladolid. However, Barca look certainties to regain the league crown.

Barca, who visit AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday, are 16 points in front of third-placed Real Madrid with the champions having beaten Rayo Vallecano 2-0 last night despite having Sergio Ramos sent off in the first half.

"Over 300 goals. It's extraordinary what Messi does," Barca assistant coach Jordi Roura said.

Barca travelled to Granada without Xavi and David Villa and started with Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Carles Puyol on the bench.

Striker Odion Ighalo put the hosts in front from close range after 26 minutes and they held Barca at bay until just after the restart when Messi reacted quickly after Tono could only parry a Cesc Fabregas shot.

The Argentine added a second goal when his free-kick over the wall was too strong for Tono who got a hand to the ball. Barca then had to endure a shaky last few minutes with Victor Valdes pulling off two late saves.

Irish Independent

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