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Sports

March 21, 2017

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Messi double edges six-goal thriller Barca’s way

Messi double edges six-goal thriller Barca’s way

MADRID: Barcelona closed to within two points of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as Lionel Messi scored twice in a thrilling 4-2 win over 10-man Valencia at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Earlier, Antoine Griezmann scored a stunning free-kick as Atletico Madrid compounded a week to forget for Sevilla with a 3-1 at the Vicente Calderon.

Barca needed to come from behind to keep the pressure on Madrid as Eliaquim Mangala headed Valencia in front.

But the on-loan Manchester City defender was sent-off for pulling down Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan had levelled and Messi smashed home the resulting penalty.

Munir El Haddadi briefly levelled for the 10 men before half-time, but Messi and finally Andre Gomes with his first Barca goal sealed the three points.

An action packed final 15 minutes of the first-half saw four goals and a red card.

Barca’s weakness from set-pieces was exposed again a week on from conceding twice from corners in a 2-1 defeat at Deportivo la Coruna when Mangala powered home Dani Parejo’s corner to open the scoring.

The lead lasted just six minutes as Suarez raced onto Neymar’s throw-in to slot into the far corner.

Mangala went from hero to villain as he then pulled down Suarez inside the area to concede a penalty and be sent-off.

Messi beat penalty specialist Diego Alves from the spot.

However, straight from kick-off Barca were caught cold as Jose Gaya teed up Munir El Haddadi to score against his parent club for the second time this season.

Messi drilled home at Alves’s near post seven minutes into the second period for his 41st goal of the season.

Suarez somehow slotted wide with the goal gaping after Alves had denied Messi his hat-trick, whilst Neymar hit the bar.

But Barca finally put the game to bed a minute from time when Neymar crossed for Gomes to tap home against his old side.

At the Calderon, Griezmann shone for Atletico once more as he teed up Diego Godin’s opener and then struck a stunning free-kick for his 22nd goal of the season. Koke added Atletico’s third before Joaquin Correa registered a consolation for Sevilla.

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