Lionel Messi starred for Barcelona as they got their title challenge back on track with a 3-2 win over Real Sociedad at the camp Nou on Saturday.
- Barcelona 3 Real Sociedad 2
- Barca lead through Messi brace
- Umtiti OG halves deficit
- Alcacer restores two-goal cushion
- Prieto brings end to thrilling half
All five goals were scored in the first half, Messi breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute before striking again 20 minutes later to take his tally for the Catalans to 498 goals.
Samuel Umtiti's own-goal on 42 minutes gave La Real hope, which was quickly extinguished by Paco Alcacer, only for Xabi Prieto to pull another one back in an entertaining opening 45 minutes.
Luis Enrique's side closed to within three points of league leaders Real Madrid, who beat Sporting Gijon by the same margin earlier in the day, while the Basque outfit are a point adrift of the European places in seventh spot.
The hosts made the better start and threatened to open the scoring in the 12th minute when Mikel Oyarzabal fired straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen, after being set up by Willian Jose.
But Barca began to find their stride and drew first blood on 17 minutes as Messi received the ball from Luis Suarez and slotted past Geronimo Rulli with a low shot from outside the area.
The Argentine magician seemingly put the hosts in command with his second goal eight minutes before half-time – a simple tap-in from close range after Suarez's initial strike had been saved by Rulli.
But Eusebio's men hit back five minutes later, although it came from the unlikely source of Umtiti, who deflected Inigo Martinez's cross past Ter Stegen.
The Blaugrana, in turn, responded swiftly as Alcacer tucked his effort into the far corner of the net two minutes later after latching onto Messi's through-ball.
There was still time for Prieto to get on the scoresheet before half-time, the Spanish midfielder guiding Jose's cross beyond Ter Stegen in stoppage time.
If the crowd had been expecting more goals in the second half they were sorely disappointed as the action after the break faded, with Sociedad keeping Messi more quiet.
The closest La Real came to an equaliser was a long-range free-kick from Asier Illarramendi that Ter Stegen parried over the crossbar, while at the other end Suarez tested Rulli late on with a shot that the keeper saved with his legs.
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) April 15, 2017
Saturday's other results:
Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 Malaga
Sporting Gijon 2-3 Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid 3-0 Osasuna