PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

These are the victories that win league titles. Barça, 1-0 down with just 15 minutes left to play, came away with three really hard won points thanks to two late Messi goals. Joseba Llorente had put the hosts one up in the first half, despite Barça enjoying their usual domination of possession, but after the break Osasuna’s resistance was broken down by two more goals for the Argentinean world number one, who once again popped up to give Barça the win.

The victory makes it three wins out of three so far this season and leaves the team at the top of the La Liga table with the maximum six points.

Openings for Barça, goal for Osasuna

The game started in a similar fashion to February’s, when Barça lost 3-2 – though on a rather warmer day! After just 30 seconds, Valdes pulled off a brilliant one handed stop to push away a Cejudo shot, but there was nothing he could do about Llorente’s opener on 17 minutes, when the ex-Real Sociedad striker fired home at the back post from a Lamah cross. Osasuna were in the lead and displaying their usual terrier like commitment as they chased Barça down, but the visitors dominated possession and were making their own chances.

Plenty more chances

Before the hosts had gone one up, Alexis had a good opportunity and Tello hit the post and once they were behind, they continued to create openings, getting in behind the high Osasuna defence. Iniesta had a clear chance and Messi was only denied by some great keeping from Andrés.

Nino hits the post

Osasuna upped their pressing after the break and Barça were not looking as comfortable, nor getting as many chances and Nino had a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 when Busquets lost the ball in front of the box, but his shot brushed the post. Tito Vilanova was then shown a red for protesting, but the miss proved to be a turning point as Messi grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.

Messi to the rescue

With Xavi and Pedro now on the pitch, Messi took advantage of two assists from Alexis and Jordi Alba to turn the game around and with Puñal seeing red in between, Osasuna’s resistance was broken and Barça were able to seal their third straight win of the new season.