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Barça produced dreamlike football on Saturday night to beat Alavés 5-1 and keep their Liga title aspirations alive. Two-goal Leo Messi was as brilliant as he has ever been, Trincão scored his first brace for the club and Junior Firpo also chipped in with a fifth.
It truly was magnificent football from Barça, who were already comfortably 2-0 ahead at the break when it could have been three had the coolest of finishes and the tightest of offside calls not prevented Messi from celebrating a goal on the day he matched Xavi for Liga appearances.
But there was no arguing with his goal right on the half-time whistle. And it was another example of the Argentinian making the impossible look easy as he collected the ball on the edge of the area and slotted it through the kind of space that any normal player would never have noticed.
So far so good
Earlier on Trincão had scored only his second goal for the club, a beautiful converted curler following some clever moves in the build-up from Mingueza and Ilaix.
It’s not to say that Ter Stegen had not been tested. He had. But Barça were looking much the better team. With no cause for nerves, Culers could sit back and enjoy the second half.
Alavés strike back
That relative calm faded on 57 minutes. A misread pass in defence and Luis Rioja was suddenly through on goal and pulling a goal back for Alavés.
Barça need another goal for comfort. Trincão, Messi and Griezmann all had it, but as has been worryingly frequent this season, great chances were inexplicably being squandered.
Cue the magic. With a quarter of an hour to go, an exquisite through ball from Pedri to Messi. Alavés keeper Pacheco dealt with the Argentinian, but the ball went straight to Trincão, who smacked in his second goal of the night.
And no sooner was the ball back in motion than Messi produced the kind of goal that used to only belong in comic strips. Dancing on the edge of the area, he picked his spot and wham! Top corner of the net and that was 4-1.
The game was won but Barça hadn’t finished. What a chip from Pedri! Griezmann was on the end of it and Firpo was on hand to tap in the killer pass. We were being treated to Barça at their clinical best. That was five.
There was still time for Trincão to score what would have completed a memorable hat-trick but the offside flag was up… But no worries. Alavés knew they were beaten, and Barça’s minds were already switching to PSG.
And playing like this, Barça are ready for anyone.
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