Lionel Messi scored twice on Sunday as Barcelona trounced Real Sociedad 6-1 to maintain the strain on Atletico Madrid, who squeezed previous Alaves because of a late penalty save from Jan Oblak. Oblak’s 86th-minute heroics ensured Luis Suarez’s 500th profession objective was sufficient for a 1-Zero victory on the Wanda Metropolitano, that means the hole on the high of La Liga stays at 4 factors, with 10 video games left to play. But the distinction between Atletico’s nervy win in opposition to 19th-placed Alaves and Barca’s demolition of a Real Sociedad aspect with hopes of qualifying for Europe spoke volumes about the place the momentum lies within the Spanish title race.
Atletico will hope Oblak’s save can show to be a turning level after a difficult few weeks, whereas the worldwide break may provide Diego Simeone’s aspect an opportunity to reset and refresh forward of the run-in.
“There are games where you suffer but that’s what makes football beautiful,” stated Oblak.
Simeone stated: “Like all great teams, there is always one that scores a lot of goals and one that makes a lot of saves. They are both decisive players who make the team stronger.”
Barcelona have hit their stride, their six targets in opposition to Real Sociedad at least they deserved for a scintillating attacking show, and maybe their greatest since Ronald Koeman took cost.
“The team has improved a lot recently,” stated Koeman. “We’ve gone a lot of games without losing in the league, which was the only way to get back in the fight for th title.
“But we’re nonetheless behind Atleti, Real Madrid are stronger. We should maintain going to the top.”
Messi breaks appearance record
Messi scored his 11th and 12 goals in his last 10 games, and made it 16 in 12 this year. The 33-year-old has also now passed Xavi Hernandez’s record of 767 Barcelona appearances, which he had equalled against Huesca on Monday.
Messi did not plough a lone furrow at the Reale Arena, where Sergino Dest scored twice either side of half-time after Antoine Griezmann slammed in the opener.
Ousmane Dembele and Real Sociedad’s Ander Barrenetxea — with arguably the goal of the night — both registered between Messi’s double in the second half.
For Barcelona, it is a ninth consecutive away win in the league, with a club record 10th within their grasp if they beat Real Madrid in the Clasico on April 10.
Real Sociedad next play Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao in the postponed Copa del Rey final from last year on April 3.
Dest had already hit the crossbar when Messi set Jordi Alba free down the left and while Dembele’s finish was saved, Griezmann was on hand to convert the rebound.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to rectify his own poor clearance by getting down low to deny Alexander Isak but Real Sociedad’s resistance was brief.
Messi slipped in Dest to fire in and then Alba pulled back from the other side for the American to make it three.
Messi snuck in behind early in the second half, poking in Sergio Busquets’ ball over the top before Dembele was allowed to glide through unchallenged, and impressively drove into the far corner.
Barrenetxea put his side on the scoreboard, and brilliantly, by nipping inside Frenkie de Jong and thundering a shot into the top corner but Messi had the last word, a crisp finish curling inside the near post.
Messi stays ahead of Suarez in the La Liga scoring charts, despite the Uruguayan’s excellent finish nine minutes into the second half against Alaves.
Thomas Lemar turned the ball around the corner to Marcos Llorente, who fed Kieran Trippier racing down the right, and he curled a cross in on the run to the near post, where Suarez headed in.
But with no second objective, Alaves at all times had an opportunity and so they got a golden one after Stefan Savic was judged to have put an arm throughout Luis Rioja simply contained in the penalty space.
Joselu stepped up and struck it effectively to his left however Oblak learn it proper and, together with his left foot nonetheless pinned to the road, sprung out and pushed the ball away.
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