Lionel Messi soared previous Luis Suarez to develop into La Liga’s high scorer on Wednesday by including his seventeenth and 18th targets of the season in a much-needed 3-0 victory for Barcelona over Elche.
Barca had adopted up final week’s crushing Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain by drawing at dwelling to Cadiz on Sunday however eased the pressure with a cushty win on the Camp Nou.
Messi’s double owed a lot to a pair of very good assists, with a supreme dribble by Frenkie de Jong coming after a chic flick from Martin Braithwaite, who additionally arrange Jordi Alba to attain a 3rd.
After failing to take full benefit of league leaders Atletico Madrid’s defeat by Levante on Saturday, this victory places Barcelona again in third, 5 factors off the highest, having performed a sport greater than Atletico.
Simply as importantly, it places Ronald Koeman’s facet again on monitor after two disappointing outcomes threatened to extinguish momentum gained in current weeks.
Even when Atletico show too far forward to catch, a optimistic efficiency was vital, particularly with a semi-final second leg to return subsequent week towards Sevilla within the Copa del Rey, which can be their solely probability of successful a trophy this time period.
Messi’s return to high kind comes as an enormous enhance too. The 33-year-old got here off unfavourably in comparisons made with Kylian Mbappe final week however these sorts of performances present he’s removed from completed but.
This was Messi’s fifth and sixth objective in his final 4 video games whereas no participant from the highest 5 European leagues has scored greater than his 13 this yr in all competitions. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is closest on 12.
Francisco Trincao and Frenkie de Jong had early probabilities for Barcelona whereas Elche ought to have scored however Lucas Boye blazed over.
But a frantic opening gave method to a disjointed first half and Koeman reacted by bringing off the ineffective Miralem Pjanic at half-time and changing him with Ousmane Dembele.
Barcelona scored inside two minutes of the restart, Messi driving from midfield in direction of the realm and rebounding off Braithwaite, whose sweeping flick behind his standing leg gave the scuttling Argentinian a easy end.
Elche’s early menace had dissipated and Barca added two extra in 5 minutes.
The primary got here from a panoramic run from De Jong, who dribbled ahead from the midway line, previous three Elche defenders, earlier than reducing again for Messi. He glided previous two extra and prodded in.
Messi began the transfer for the third, with a well-known, curving go to Braithwaite on the again put up, whose cushioned header throughout discovered Alba unmarked within the center.