Barcelona on top as Messi scores brace

Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win over Racing Santander on Saturday, a victory which preserved the Spanish and European champions' one-point lead over Real Madrid in La Liga.

Messi's brace, which took his league total to 10 this season, and a rare header for captain Xavi Hernandez were enough to seal the points.

The result was never in doubt and Barca were able to take their foot off the pedal towards the end with one eye on Wednesday's Champions League match at home to Czech side Viktoria Plzen.

However, they will be without defender Gerard Pique who limped off with a right thigh injury and will be out for at least two weeks.

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