Messi’s dead-ball brilliance sends Barcelona three points clear at top

Annette Crawford
December 9, 2018

Recent Barcelona derbies in Cornella have been feisty affairs, but Barca, with Messi at his very best, never gave them a chance.

The win cements Barcelona's place at the La Liga summit, while Espanyol drop to ninth after slipping to a fourth consecutive league defeat.

Barcelona were having all of the ball though, and the visitors made the breakthrough in the 17th minute when Messi curled a stunning long-range free kick into the top corner of the net.

Dembele was sent clear before feeding Messi in a crowded Espanyol penalty area and his shot was blocked by Diego Lopez.

Barcelona did make it 2-0 in the 26th minute, however, when Dembele worked his way into the Espanyol box before finding the far corner with an excellent effort.

Espanyol defender Oscar Duarte fouled the Barcelona playmaker 25 yards out in a central position.

That change is up front where Luis Suárez comes in for Philippe Coutinho.

Lionel Messi celebrates against Espanyol (Joan Monfort/AP).

Barcelona were caught out at the back in the 74th minute when Duarte stabbed the ball in at close range from a free-kick.

Dembele was the creator this time with a superb pass to Suarez, who slipped his finish through the legs of Lopez from a tight angle.

Espanyol went looking for a lifeline at the start of the second half, but Barcelona remained unsafe on the break.

Leo Baptistao was introduced in the 60th minute as Espanyol looked for a route back into the match, but Barcelona continued to resist the pressure, with Ter Stegen not having too much to do.

Suarez and Messi hit the post in quick succession as Espanyol completely failed to cope with Barca's attacking movement and sublime passing, a third goal arriving before the break.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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