Villarreal 0 – 2 Barcelona [La Liga Highlights] 2017/18
The Uruguay forward struck with 18 minutes to play at the Estadio de la Ceramica before Messi added a simple second, ending a run of back-to-back draws in the top flight for the Catalans and keeping the title race firmly in their hands.
Messi’s goal saw him equal the record of 525 goals in all competitions for the same team in one of Europe’s top-five leagues, set by Bayern Munich great Gerd Muller.
Barca, held by second-place Valencia and Celta Vigo in their last two games, had not gone three games without a league win for over a year but found it difficult to break down Javier Calleja’s side.
Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique each hit the woodwork but Marc-Andre ter Stegen was called upon to keep the home side at bay, before Raba’s red card in the second half left Villarreal up against it.
The visitors had been short of their best but one moment of slick passing carved open the Villarreal defence and allowed Luis Suarez to break the deadlock, and Messi made the points safe with seven minutes remaining.
The victory again moves Barca five points clear of Valencia, six above Atletico Madrid and eight ahead of champions Real Madrid, all three of whom won this weekend.
Pique hit the bar after only three minutes with a header from Denis Suarez’s corner, though Ter Stegen had to be alert to deny Roberto Soriano from close range in an evenly contested first half-hour
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