Barcelona were made to work hard but had Lionel Messi to thank as they beat local rivals Espanyol 2-0 at Camp Nou on Saturday evening.

The visitors frustrated Barcelona by defending resolutely for the first hour of the game, wherein Ivan Rakitic’s narrow miss and Diego Lopez’s blinder of a save from Malcom were the two chances that saw Ernesto Valverde’s men come the closest to breaking the deadlock.

On the opposite end, Espanyol barely threatened, with Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet defending expertly against the threat of theΒ Periquitos. The deadlock was finally broken in the 71st minute, and who else but Lionel Messi to bail his side out for the umpteenth time this term.

The Barcelona captain made no error in scoring from a free-kick from the edge of the box, despite the efforts of Victor Sanchez. The win was then rounded off with moments left in regulation time, with Messi doubling his and Barcelona’s tally, finishing off from Malcom’s cut-back.

Unsurprisingly, the Argentine magician was the toast of the Barcelona supporters as well as those of rival clubs in the aftermath of the game, as the La Liga champions stretched their lead atop the table to a near-unassailable 13 points.

Messi was not the only player who was in brilliant form on Saturday, with both Malcom and Clement Lenglet making an impression as well.

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