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 the 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.
Honestly run out of superlatives to describe Messi.
— The United Link 🏆 (@TheUnitedLink) March 30, 2019
A chipped finish down the middle from the penalty spot is called a Paneka.
Only right to name a chipped finish from a Free kick , Messi. pic.twitter.com/uMVnoMUurC
— Ugbedeojo #MUFC (@Certifiedopeboi) March 30, 2019
— Aminu Tobi (@tobby_xy) March 30, 2019
Messi just took every Panenka penalty and raised the bar that much higher. 🙄🐐
— Erica (@EricaA_barca) March 30, 2019
Lionel Messi in the last 4 Barcelona games (vs Rayo, Lyon, Betis & Espanyol):
• 8 goals
• 3 assists
• 45′ scoring frequency
• 79% goal involvement 🤯
This. Is. Simply. Insane. pic.twitter.com/4FMpxpX25v
— Enock Kobina Essel (@kobinaessel39) March 30, 2019
— Abraham Daudu (@ps_daudu) March 30, 2019
Messi has 31 league goals.
With a quarter of the season left.
— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) March 30, 2019
Since the beginning of 2018, Lionel Messi has scored 12 goals directly from free kicks. No side in Europe have managed the same amount between their entire squad combined. He’s not human.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) March 30, 2019
Look what Messi did 🔥 🔥
Birth of the panenka free kick pic.twitter.com/hqnXv5BnP6
— 𝕾𝖙𝖊𝖛𝖊 Barça (@Stevedaresx) March 30, 2019
Messi was not the only player who was in brilliant form on Saturday, with both Malcom and Clement Lenglet making an impression as well.
It’s shameful how Barça have been treating Malcom. Disgusted.
— Fiaz Hamzath (@fiaz_hamzath) March 30, 2019
Malcom keeps on proving he deserves to be in FC Barcelona. Always taking advantage of every opportunity he gets. Why isn’t Valverde seeing this? Malcom should have the chance to start games. pic.twitter.com/cNA7u5JTGs
— 𝚄𝚕𝚝𝚛𝚊 𝙼𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚒𝚌 (@UltraMessistic) March 30, 2019
Clement Lenglet, what an outrageously good defender.
Literally elite. One of the best on the planet. pic.twitter.com/Mhtv1L16u3
— totalBarça (@totalBarca) March 30, 2019
Clement freaking Lenglet.
— madan (@EnjoyArthur) March 30, 2019
Malcom did more in twenty minutes than Coutinho in the entirety of 2019, he’s earned a starting place until Dembélé returns.
— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) March 30, 2019
Forget about Messi,
Please let’s talk about Lenglet and how wonderful he has been since joining Barca.
— Barca Ass. Class Captain (@jaj_genius) March 30, 2019