Barcelona's Lionel Messi, center, celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Granada and FC Barcelona at the Los Carmenes stadium in Granada, Spain, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. Photo: AP
Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann scored twice each to lead a commanding 4-0 rout at Granada as Barcelona continued to improve in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Barcelona's first three-match winning run in the league under Ronald Koeman left it just two points behind second-placed Real Madrid before the defending champion visited Osasuna later.
Leader Atletico Madrid was four points ahead of Barcelona with three games in hand. Its home game scheduled for Saturday against Athletic Bilbao was postponed due to a blizzard that has shut down the capital and made transit almost impossible through much of central Spain.
Griezmann got Barcelona started with his first goal in nearly a month in the 12th minute. Griezmann set up Messi to double the lead with a left-footed shot from the edge of the area in the 36th.
Messi got his league-leading 11th goal in the 42nd when he drove a free kick under two players who jumped in the defensive barrier. It was his first goal from a free kick this season.
Griezmann rounded off the big win in the 64th when he beat goalkeeper Rui Silva from a tight angle after Ousmane Dembele played him clear with a lobbed pass.
Granada played the last 12 minutes with 10 men after Jesus Vallejo was sent off for fouling Martin Braithwaite with only Silva to beat. Braithwaite had gone on in the 65th to give Messi a rare bit of rest with the game well in hand for the visitors.
EN-NESYRI HAT TRICK
Youssef En-Nesyri scored a hat trick for Sevilla to beat Real Sociedad 3-2 in a thriller that featured four goals in the opening quarter of an hour.
Sevilla drew level on points in the standings with Real Sociedad, which was ahead on goal difference in fifth place. Sevilla, in sixth, also has three games in hand.
En-Nesyri opened the scoring in the fourth minute from a pass by Fernando.
Just one minute later, an own goal by Sevilla's Diego Carlos came when he attempted to knock the ball away from Aleksander Isak.
While his first goal was a simple tap into an open net, En-Nesyri's second goal in the seventh minute was a work of beauty. The Morocco striker dribbled past three defenders before beating the Sociedad goalkeeper with a low strike.
Isak made it 2-2 in the 14th from a corner kick that reached him unmarked at the far post. But En-Nesyri netted the winner in the 46th after firing in a low cross by Lucas Ocampos.
Sevilla defender Jules Kounde cleared a header by Mikel Merino in the second half to ensure the three points.
En-Nesyri leads Sevilla with 12 goals in all competitions this season.
"This could be the best game (of my career)," En-Nesyri said after his second career hat trick in Spain. "`When you get those chances, you have to make the most of them and finish them off."
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