Lionel Messi’s second-half double and another from Jordi Alba saw Barça take all three points against a stubborn Elche side in a vital win
A swift attacking move from Trincão and Lionel Messi almost resulted in a first-minute goal for Barça as they set their stall out from the first whistle. Lucas Boyé shot over when well placed for the visitors, which appeared to spur Ronald Koeman’s side on further.
No goals by the quarter hour wasn’t for the want of trying as the blaugranes continued to take the game to their opponents. A wonderful, mazy run and shot from Trincão on 19 deserved a goal, however, Elche keeper, Badía, was equal to the chance to deny the Portuguese.
Right on the half-hour, Messi clipped in a free-kick that found Frenkie de Jong, his header repelled once again by Badía. Despite having the lion’s share of possession in the opening 45, Barça weren’t able to find the net and it needed a late save from Marc-André ter Stegen to ensure the score remained goalless at half-time.
Within two minutes of the restart, Messi’s incisive run and Martin Braithwaite’s sumptuous back-heel combined to see the captain slide Barça ahead. Exactly the same combination and movement almost saw a second just a few minutes later as the hosts started to turn the screw.
There followed more long periods of possession for the hosts, peppered with half chances, though it would be 68 minutes before Messi further extended Barça’s lead, and place him two ahead of Luis Suárez in the race for the Pichichi. The goal owed much to De Jong’s surging run forward, leaving Messi to finish with aplomb.
Just five minutes later the game was ended as a contest with Jordi Alba getting his name on the score sheet, nipping into the area and finishing from close range.
Antoine Griezmann almost made it four two minutes later, the crossbar saving Elche and the Frenchman only finding the side netting with another chance shortly after.