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Messi se'n va d'Andrés (Osasuna) amb la mirada. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

Four brilliant goals from the ever brilliant World Number One led Barça to a convincing 5-1 win over Osasuna and put to bed any doubts after last week’s defeat to Real Sociedad. With their Cup progress secured by the quarter final win over Malaga, Barça turned their attention back to the league, where they continue to chalk up the wins. This time it was against a side who were badly hit by a penalty and the subsequent sending off on 26 minutes with the scores level at 1-1. Such was Barça’s superiority that they were able to give a rest to some of their players ahead of next week’s tough schedule.

Messi opens the scoring

Jordi Roure rotated his squad, but Barça were soon on top, with Osasuna bravely offering space in attack, which Xavi and Thiago looked to exploit from the midfield. Thiago created the first chance, but it was Xavi who set up the opener on 10 minutes with a pass to Messi. The Argentinean did the rest, sending the keeper the wrong way and slotting the ball home.

Penalty and sending off sentence Osasuna

Barça were looking strong and Loé’s equaliser on 23 minutes, with a well-placed shot from the edge of the box, didn’t really look like troubling them too much. Sure enough, less than five minutes later, they were in front after Arribas handled in the box for his second yellow and Messi gratefully strode up and put away the resulting penalty. It’s hard enough to beat Barça with 11 men, with 10 it looked like the Basques were in for a long hard night. Messi nearly got his hat trick on 37 minutes, when only the woodwork kept out his excellent header, but it seemed just a matter of time before the fans would be cheering more goals. 

Two more from Leo

Pedro duly got the third on 40 minutes, latching onto a cross from Alves and Osasuna boss Mendilibar, who was sent to the stands for protesting in the first half, had to rejig his 10 men at the break if they were to avoid a real hiding, making a double substitution and bringing on Puñal and Masoud. However, there’s really no way to outwit a player like Messi, who got two more quick fire goals – after good work from Villa – just before the hour mark.

Big names given a rest

With the game won, Jordi Roura took the opportunity to bring off Pedro, Xavi and Busquets with one eye on this week’s busy schedule and with Barça calmly keeping a firm grip on the game, the lively Alexis came close to making it a half dozen and breaking his recent goal drought, as did David Villa, generous and active throughout, who was only denied in the closing seconds by a great stop from the Osasuna keeper Andrés.

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