scored a penalty as leaders came from behind to beat Rayo Vallecano and retain their seven-point lead at the top.

Raul de Tomas, on loan from , had given Rayo a surprise lead with an excellent 20-yard strike.

headed an equaliser from Messi’s free-kick and the Barca captain nonchalantly put the treble-chasing champions ahead from the spot.

Luis Suarez tapped home a late third after a one-two with Ivan Rakitic.

Messi is ’s top scorer with 26 goals in 25 games, with Suarez second on 17.

Second-placed had briefly narrowed the gap on Barca with a 1-0 win over Leganes earlier on Saturday, Saul scoring the only goal.

were made to work hard by Rayo Vallecano, who are in the relegation zone after six consecutive defeats, but Ernesto Valverde’s side are now unbeaten in 14 games, a run going back to November. They have won 13 consecutive league games against Rayo since 2002.

Next up for the Catalan side is a home game against Lyon in the last 16 on Wednesday, having drawn the first leg 0-0 in France.

Line-ups

  • 1ter Stegen
  • 2Nélson Semedo
  • 3Piqué
  • 23Umtiti
  • 18Alba
  • 22Vidal
  • 5BusquetsBooked at 79minsSubstituted forMalcomat 85′minutes
  • 8Ramos de Oliveira MeloSubstituted forDembéléat 45′minutes
  • 10Messi
  • 9Suárez
  • 7CoutinhoSubstituted forRakiticat 80′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Rakitic
  • 11Dembélé
  • 13Cillessen
  • 14Malcom
  • 17Murillo
  • 20Roberto
  • 21Aleñá

Rayo Vallecano

  • 13Dimitrievski
  • 17Advíncula
  • 20VelázquezBooked at 68mins
  • 23Gálvez
  • 16AmatSubstituted forPozoat 64′minutes
  • 7Moreno Lopera
  • 14Dias Correia
  • 12ImbulaBooked at 89mins
  • 27Comesaña
  • 18GarcíaSubstituted forEmbarbaat 80′minutes
  • 9de Tomás Gómez

Substitutes

  • 1García
  • 2Román Triguero
  • 8Trejo
  • 11Embarba
  • 15Suárez
  • 22Pozo
  • 25Di Santo
Referee:
Mario Melero López
Attendance:
74,158

Match Stats

Home TeamAway TeamRayo Vallecano
Possession
Home69%
Away31%
Shots
Home12
Away8
Shots on Target
Home6
Away1
Corners
Home10
Away4
Fouls
Home12
Away17

Live Text

Match ends, 3, Rayo Vallecano 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, 3, Rayo Vallecano 1.

Booking

Giannelli Imbula (Rayo Vallecano) is shown the yellow card.

Gerard Piqué () wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Giannelli Imbula (Rayo Vallecano).

Attempt missed. Raúl de Tomás (Rayo Vallecano) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is too high. Assisted by Giannelli Imbula.

Foul by Samuel Umtiti ().

Raúl de Tomás (Rayo Vallecano) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, . Jordi Alba tries a through ball, but Luis Suárez is caught offside.

Attempt missed. () left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.

Substitution

Substitution, . Malcom replaces Sergio Busquets.

Foul by Alejandro Gálvez (Rayo Vallecano).

Goal!

Goal! 3, Rayo Vallecano 1. Luis Suárez () right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ivan Rakitic.

Attempt blocked. Bebé (Rayo Vallecano) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Adrián Embarba.

Substitution

Substitution, . Ivan Rakitic replaces Coutinho.

Substitution

Substitution, Rayo Vallecano. Adrián Embarba replaces Álvaro García.

Booking

Sergio Busquets () is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Sergio Busquets ().

Giannelli Imbula (Rayo Vallecano) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Corner, Rayo Vallecano. Conceded by Jordi Alba.

Attempt blocked. Raúl de Tomás (Rayo Vallecano) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Emiliano Velázquez (Rayo Vallecano) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Giannelli Imbula with a cross.

Corner, Rayo Vallecano. Conceded by Nélson Semedo.

Corner, . Conceded by Santiago Comesaña.

Corner, . Conceded by Álex Moreno.

Attempt blocked. () left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Booking

Emiliano Velázquez (Rayo Vallecano) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Luis Suárez () wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Emiliano Velázquez (Rayo Vallecano).

Offside, Rayo Vallecano. José Pozo tries a through ball, but Santiago Comesaña is caught offside.

Attempt missed. José Pozo (Rayo Vallecano) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right following a corner.

Corner, Rayo Vallecano. Conceded by Samuel Umtiti.

Attempt blocked. Raúl de Tomás (Rayo Vallecano) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Santiago Comesaña.

Foul by Arturo Vidal ().

José Pozo (Rayo Vallecano) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Rayo Vallecano. José Pozo replaces Jordi Amat.

Attempt blocked. Coutinho () right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ousmane Dembélé.

Samuel Umtiti () wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Bebé (Rayo Vallecano).