FC Barcelona returned from conceding an early goal to cruise to victory at home over Girona and piled the pressure on second placed Atletico Madrid who play away to Sevilla.
Barca's 6-1 win on Saturday put them 10 points ahead of Atletico and retained their 14-point advantage on Real Madrid, who won 4-0 at home to Alaves earlier in the day, reports Xinhua news agency.
Portu opened the scoring for Girona in the 3rd minute only for Luis Suarez to equalise almost directly from the kick off.
A Barca side containing Phillipe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele in their starting 11, then proceeded to take Girona apart with Leo Messi scoring twice and Suarez adding another before the break.
Countinho scored his first league goal since joining from Liverpool, before Suarez completed his hat-trick on a night when the only bad news was a muscle injury suffered by right back Nelson Semedo.
However the talking point of Saturday's game was this wonder free-kick by Messi.
Messi’s Barcelona team mates and coach Ernesto Valverde were singing his praises after the Argentine scored an inspired free kick where he sent the ball under the wall and into the net in their 6-1 thrashing of Girona on Saturday.
Messi had already given Barca a 2-1 lead after a mesmeric dribble from the byline but he pulled an altogether different trick from up his sleeve to score their third, hitting the ball straight across the floor and taking visiting goalkeeper Bono completely by surprise.
Barca have become used to Messi’s spectacular strike rate from free kicks but he had never before scored by hitting the ball under a defensive wall.
“He tricked us all with the goal, it’s incredible how good he is, he seems to play better with every game,” midfielder Philippe Coutinho told reporters.
“It’s difficult to get used to things like this. You think he has done everything and then he goes and surprises you like that,” said coach Valverde.
“We were waiting to see how the wall would cope with him and then he goes and puts it under it. Then when you see it happen you think ‘ah, of course.’ Leo makes it look easy, but it isn’t easy.”
Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets added: “He always makes the difference, and that’s what makes him the best player in the world and the best in football history.”
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