Messi's brace saves Barca

Aug 28, 2012, 08:58 IST | AFP

Lionel Messi struck a late brace to give Barcelona a 2-1 win over 10-man Osasuna on Sunday that took them to the top of the Spanish Liga table

Barca appeared set for their first defeat under coach Tito Vilanova, who was sent from the dug-out for complaining to the referee midway through the second half, before Messi came to the rescue.

Barcelona
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (centre) celebrates a goal with teammates. Pic/AFP

Osasuna was the scene of a Barca defeat last season that helped to turn the title race against them and they went behind this time after a 17th-minute goal from Joseba Llorente.

After the visitors missed a hatful of opportunities, the game appeared to be going against them, until Messi rose to the occasion with strikes after 75 and 80 minutes.

Osasuna’s Francisco Punal was red-carded by the referee for protesting about the Argentine’s first strike, as he felt he was offside.

Victory provisionally took Barcelona top of the early-season standings, above Rayo Vallecano on goal difference.

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