Messi nets twice in win over Elche

Lionel Messi scored twice in the second half as Barcelona moved back up into third place in La Liga by defeating Elche 3-0.

Jordi Alba also scored after the break to help Barcelona move within two points of second-place Real Madrid and five behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who still have a game in hand.

Barcelona were coming off two consecutive setbacks at home a 4-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League and a 1-1 draw against Cadiz in the Spanish league.

Messi reached 18 league goals with his double, moving two ahead of Atletico Madrid’s Luis Suarez.

He opened the scoring at the Camp Nou Stadium with a shot from inside the area after a give-and-go exchange of passes with Martin Braithwaite, then added to the lead after picking up a pass from Frenkie de Jong and fending off a few defenders before finding the net.

Alba closed the scoring in the 73rd after being set up by Braithwaite and Messi.

Barcelona’s next two matches are against Sevilla, a league meeting on Saturday followed by the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final on March 3.


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