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La Liga: Lionel Messi brace hands Barcelona victory

Barcelona: Barcelona moved four points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as a double from Lionel Messi eased them to a 2-0 win at Eibar on Saturday.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (left) celebrates his goal against Eibar with Neymar on Saturday. Pic: AP/PTI
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (left) celebrates his goal against Eibar with Neymar on Saturday. Pic: AP/PTI 

The Argentine overcame his recent penalty yips to open the scoring from the spot and then headed in his side's second from Ivan Rakitic's corner.

Madrid have the chance to reduce the gap back to a point ahead of next weekend's El Clasico between the two sides when they face Levante late in the night yesterday.

Champions Atletico Madrid are now nine points off the top, though, as they had Miranda sent-off in a 0-0 draw at Espanyol.

Barca boss Luis Enrique made seven changes with Wednesday's meeting with Manchester City in the Champions League, as well as the Clasico, in mind. And he warned both Barca's next opponents that they couldn't be in a better state heading into those match.

"We arrive at the Clasico as leaders and in a perfect state," said Enrique.

"I don't consider this to be the most important week (of the season) but a great week. It will decide if we can get to the quarters or not of the Champions League because City have a lot of quality."

It took the Catalans half an hour to break down Eibar's well-organised defence with a sweeping move that led to Borja Ekiza handling a shot from Messi.

The four-time World Player of the Year had missed five of his last 11 penalties for club and country, but made no mistake from the spot as he thumped the ball home.

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