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Messi brace helps Barça win in Gijón and open the gap at the top

SPORTYOU SPORTYOU 17/02/2016 sportyou
El Barça gana en Gijón y abre más brecha con los goles de Messi © Getty Images El Barça gana en Gijón y abre más brecha con los goles de Messi

Barcelona did what was expected of them and won the game they had in hand against Sporting de Gijón. In doing so they extended the lead they have at the top of the table, leaving Atlético trailing them by six points and Real Madrid by seven.

It was by no means an easy game for them. The leaders had to sweat a little more than one would have thought, because their hosts made life difficult for them despite the fact that Abelardo rested some of his regular starting players, a decision that always causes suspicions when the big teams come to visit.

The match was alive until Leo Messi decided to kill it off. He scored his first in the 25th minute, but it was a goal that, far from ushering in a placid stroll to victory, urged Sporting to greater efforts, the fruit of which came two minutes later when they equalised. Castro scored it, and the El Molinón almost collapsed such was the joy of the home fans.

There was hardly time for Gijón to spring any more surprises because just four minutes later, Messi and Suárez played a neat two-one and the Argentinean lashed home the visitors' second. With the lead now re-established, Barcelona relaxed again, allowing Sporting to grow in confidence and threaten Bravo's area. In one incursion, Halilovic and Arda tussled and the Barça player brought the youngster down, committing a penalty that the referee failed to see. Shortly afterwards, Pichu Cuéllar brought down Neymar and the penalty was rightly given. Cuéllar made amends for his error, though, by saving Luis Suárez's spot-kick. This time there was no fancy penalty, no pass, no one-two, and no goal.

The 'Pichichi' would make amends for his fluffed penalty in the second half, when he scored a cracker from an individual move. The goal finished off the game, suffocating any chance of a come-back from Sporting.

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