scored twice in the second half, including a chipped free-kick, as leaders beat Espanyol to go 13 points clear at the top of .

Messi dinked his first goal from the edge of the box, with Espanyol defender Victor Sanchez failing to head clear as he ran back towards the goal-line.

The Argentine finished off a counter-attack late on to take his tally to 31 goals for the season.

Second-placed face Alaves later on Saturday (19:45 GMT).

Messi has scored 22 goals in his last 15 games, while he has also surpassed 40 goals in a season for the 10th successive time.

He had been an injury doubt for the game after missing Argentina’s friendly with Morocco in mid-week, but showed no ill-effects when he had Barca’s first chance of the game, only to see his shot deflected over the crossbar.

Barca – who face in the quarter-finals – dominated the first half, with Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez both going close to breaking the deadlock, and it wasn’t until the second half that goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was first troubled, by Oscar Melendo.

Messi’s opener saw Sanchez substituted by Espanyol soon after, before he sealed all three points by slotting home a Malcom cross.

Line-ups

  • 1ter Stegen
  • 2Nélson SemedoSubstituted forRobertoat 59′minutes
  • 3Piqué
  • 15Lenglet
  • 18Alba
  • 4Rakitic
  • 5Busquets
  • 8Ramos de Oliveira MeloSubstituted forMalcomat 59′minutes
  • 10Messi
  • 9Suárez
  • 7CoutinhoSubstituted forVidalat 82′minutes

Substitutes

  • 14Malcom
  • 19Boateng
  • 20Roberto
  • 21Aleñá
  • 22Vidal
  • 23Umtiti
  • 30Peña

Espanyol

  • 13López
  • 8RosalesBooked at 90mins
  • 27López
  • 5Gomes Pereira
  • 22Hermoso
  • 28PedrosaBooked at 87mins
  • 23GraneroBooked at 73mins
  • 4SánchezBooked at 69minsSubstituted forSemedo Estevesat 78′minutes
  • 21Roca
  • 14MelendoSubstituted forGarcíaat 65′minutes
  • 7IglesiasSubstituted forWuat 64′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Jiménez
  • 2Semedo Esteves
  • 9García
  • 12Vilá
  • 16López Rodríguez
  • 17Pérez
  • 24Wu
Referee:
Carlos del Cerro Grande
Attendance:
92,795

Match Stats

Home TeamAway TeamEspanyol
Possession
Home70%
Away30%
Shots
Home13
Away4
Shots on Target
Home3
Away2
Corners
Home5
Away2
Fouls
Home15
Away14

Live Text

Match ends, 2, Espanyol 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, 2, Espanyol 0.

Attempt blocked. Esteban Granero (Espanyol) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Hand ball by Ivan Rakitic ().

Booking

Roberto Rosales (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Jordi Alba () wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Roberto Rosales (Espanyol).

Esteban Granero (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Ivan Rakitic () wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Sergio García (Espanyol).

Arturo Vidal () wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Esteban Granero (Espanyol).

Goal!

Goal! 2, Espanyol 0. () left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Malcom.

Foul by Arturo Vidal ().

Roberto Rosales (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Adrià Pedrosa (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Ivan Rakitic () wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Adrià Pedrosa (Espanyol).

Ivan Rakitic () wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Sergio García (Espanyol).

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

Foul by Adrià Pedrosa (Espanyol).

Substitution

Substitution, . Arturo Vidal replaces Coutinho.

Mario Hermoso (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Espanyol. Alfa Semedo replaces Víctor Sánchez.

Offside, Espanyol. Mario Hermoso tries a through ball, but Sergio García is caught offside.

Foul by Jordi Alba ().

Esteban Granero (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Diego López (Espanyol) because of an injury.

Attempt missed. () right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Malcom following a fast break.

Booking

Esteban Granero (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Luis Suárez ().

Diego López (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Víctor Sánchez (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Víctor Sánchez (Espanyol).

goal

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