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PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

FC Barcelona got back to winning ways following the two painful defeats to Real Madrid, with a 2-0 victory over Deportivo – in a match where they started well, but then tailed off somewhat. A first half goal from Alexis and a second from Messi – who had come on as a sub – gave Barça the points against the bottom side in the league and a timely fillip ahead of Tuesday’s match against Milan.

The points bring the league title closer to the Camp Nou, with 11 games still to play this season, and guarantees that Barça maintain the lead they hold over the two Madrid teams, who play on Sunday, for another week at least.

Missed chances

Although Messi started on the bench, alongside Iniesta and Busquets, Barça soon began to make chances with Alves, Cesc, Adriano and Villa all having the opportunity to open the scoring, only to be denied by an inspired Aranzubía, Thiago was shining in midfield and pulling the strings for Tello and Alexis wide out on the flanks.

Alexis gets the first

The first goal was only a matter of time it seemed and Alexis got it with a header from an Alves cross from the right. Barça had though, missed a lot of chances which they’ll need to convert on Tuesday, whilst at the back, Barça only looked in any danger when Valeron had the ball at his feet, but Pinto didn’t have to make any saves at all in the first half which ended 1-0 – small reward for the chances Barça had created.

Messi comes on...

It was a much closer game after the break, with Barça looking less convincing in their build up and finding it much more difficult to create the number of chances they’d enjoyed at the start of the game. Roura brought on Messi for Villa on the hour mark and then Iniesta came on for Thiago and Busquets replaced Cesc and with the number 8 and the number 10 on the pitch, Braça gain began to create openings – including a Messi goal, ruled out for an earlier offside.

... and scores again

Deportivo might have frustrated Barça, but they failed to make any real chances themselves as the game drifted towards its end, with 1-0 looking likely to be the final score before Messi combined with Alexis to score for the 17th game running to ensure three points in the bag and a confidence booster ahead of Tuesday’s big game against Milan.

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