Messi double helps Barca see off Elche

Reuters , Wednesday 24 Feb 2021

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (C) scores a second goal during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Elche CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 24, 2021 (AP)

Lionel Messi scored twice to help Barcelona overcome an uninspiring first half and beat Elche 3-0 at home in La Liga on Wednesday.

The Catalans created little in one of their worst first-half displays at the Camp Nou this season but found a breakthrough early in the second when Martin Braithwaite released Messi with a classy backheel and the Argentine did the rest.

Barca, who failed to hold onto a narrow lead in Sunday's 1-1 draw at home to Cadiz, got an all-important second goal in the 69th when Frenkie de Jong burst through the middle and laid the ball off for Messi to dribble into the net for an 18th league goal of the season, extending his lead at the top of the scoring charts.

Left back Jordi Alba struck the third goal from another Braithwaite assist to round off a victory which took Barca back above Sevilla and into third in the standings on 50 points, five behind leaders Atletico Madrid but having played a game more.

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