Sunday 25 August 2019

Messi chalks off another milestone in derby triumph

Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his first goal for Barcelona in their win over Espanyol. Photo: REUTERS/Albert Gea
Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his first goal for Barcelona in their win over Espanyol. Photo: REUTERS/Albert Gea

Ryan Corry

Lionel Messi surpassed 40 goals in a season for the 10th successive year as his brace secured Barcelona a 2-0 derby victory over Espanyol.

The Argentinian broke the deadlock in the 71st minute when his chipped free-kick from the edge of the box was helped over the line by back-tracking Espanyol defender Victor Sanchez.

Messi then turned in a cross from substitute Malcom to seal victory on 89 minutes.

Team-mate Sergio Busquets seemed almost underwhelmed by Messi's latest heroics, saying: "His performances may be unusual from the outside, but they do not surprise us.

"What he does in training is more difficult in matches, but we are used to it."

Atletico Madrid remain their closest pursuers in La Liga after a 4-0 hammering of Alaves.

Real Madrid are third after Karim Benzema's 89th-minute strike rescued a 3-2 home win for them against basement side Huesca.

A late double from forward Paco Alcacer secured all three points against Wolfsburg as Borussia Dortmund reclaimed top spot in the Bundesliga.

Direct

In the absence of top goalscorer Marco Reus, Dortmund looked to be heading for a draw before Alcacer scored direct from a free-kick in the first minute of stoppage time, and tapped home a second three minutes later.

With reigning champions Bayern Munich held to a surprise 1-1 draw at Freiburg, Dortmund now sit two points ahead of the Bavarians.

In Italy, teenager Moise Kean continued an impressive run of form which has seen him score three goals in five Serie A appearances this season and in both of Italy's Euro 2020 qualifiers this month, against Finland and Liechtenstein.

The 19-year-old came off the bench to score the only goal in Juventus' 1-0 victory over Empoli after the runaway Serie A leaders had been jeered off the pitch at half-time.

"The crowd were right because we didn't play well," said Juventus coach Massimilano Allegri.

"Kean has quality but he has to improve in lots of areas and his willingness to make sacrifices will make the difference. So many players have lost their way along the road."

Allegri added that Kean was not ready to start the match after his week with the national team.

Juve are now 15 points clear of second-placed Napoli, who won 4-1 against Claudio Ranieri's Roma.

Ajax beat title rivals PSV Eindhoven 3-1 to close the gap at the top to two points, making light of Noussair Mazraoui's 58th-minute dismissal.

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