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2018/2019 Spanish Primera División
  • Lionel Messi (71', 89')

Messi reaches 40-goal mark as Barcelona beat Espanyol

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Nicol: It's a surprise when Messi doesn't score (0:49)

Steve Nicol and Shaka Hislop contextualize Lionel Messi's dominance after the Barcelona star reached 40 goals for the 10th straight season. (0:49)

Lionel Messi scored twice to earn Barcelona a 2-0 derby win over Espanyol and keep them 10 points clear at the top of La Liga.

A dull match was decided by Barcelona's No. 10, who lofted home a free kick after 71 minutes and slotted in from substitute Malcom's cross towards the end.

- Barcelona ratings: Messi steals the show again with 9/10 in win vs. Espanyol

Messi, who now has 40 goals in all competitions this season, suffered criticism in his native Argentina after withdrawing from a friendly against Morocco because of a groin problem, but was hailed by Barcelona fans after taking them one step closer to retaining the title.

"The important thing is that [Messi's] on our side, he scored a great free kick and without doubt having him is always an advantage for us," said midfielder Sergio Busquets.

"Espanyol were ultra-defensive and it made it hard to find spaces. We had opportunities but they didn't go in.

"We had to work for it but in the end, we took our chances and the result was justice for what happened in the game."

Ernesto Valverde started Messi along with Luis Suarez, who had recovered from an ankle sprain.

But the duo and Philippe Coutinho were kept quiet in a tight first half, with Espanyol's five-man defence not giving the South American trio any space.

With Malcom's introduction in the final half hour, the game began to open up.

The Brazilian winger had a cross-shot tipped wide by Diego Lopez, with Coutinho firing over the bar as Barcelona pushed for a winner.

The Catalans were short on inspiration until Messi produced a cheeky dinked free kick, which midfielder Victor Sanchez could not keep out on the goal-line, before tucking home his second on the break.

Barcelona were far below their fluid best but two moments of skill from talisman Messi secured three points from an otherwise forgettable game.

"I advise you to enjoy Messi while he's here, he's such a unique player," Espanyol coach Rubi said.

"When he's not there, you really notice it. He's very good and that's that. I had the luck to see him for a year in training (in 2013 at Barca under Tito Vilanova)."

Spanish Primera División Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS
1 Barcelona 38 +54 87
2 Atletico Madrid 38 +26 76
3 Real Madrid 38 +17 68
4 Valencia 38 +16 61
5 Getafe 38 +13 59
6 Sevilla FC 38 +15 59
7 Espanyol 38 -2 53
8 Athletic Bilbao 38 -4 53
9 Real Sociedad 38 -1 50
10 Real Betis 38 -8 50
11 Alavés 38 -11 50
12 Eibar 38 -4 47
13 Leganes 38 -6 45
14 Villarreal 38 -3 44
15 Levante 38 -7 44
16 Real Valladolid 38 -19 41
17 Celta Vigo 38 -9 41
18 Girona 38 -16 37
19 Huesca 38 -22 33
20 Rayo Vallecano 38 -29 32