The Argentine hit his first goals in open play in the Primera Division since late September as Barca returned to the top of the table, level on points with Madrid and Atletico
It’s close at the top. Three teams sit level at the summit of La Liga, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico all on 57 points after 23 rounds of matches.
Atletico had led the competition following the 22nd round of action, but Diego Simeone’s side surprisingly lost at Almeria at the weekend. Earlier on Saturday, Madrid had beaten Villarreal 4-2 and Carlo Ancelotti’s were top until Barca came from behind to win 4-1 at Sevilla on Sunday.
Elsewhere, there were wins for Espanyol, Valencia, Rayo Vallecano and Osasuna. Here, Goal looks at the standout performers from the 23rd round of Primera Division games.
Levante’s Keylor Navas has been in fantastic form this season and the Costa Rican shot-stopper was superb once again as he helped his side earn a point at Real Sociedad.
At the back, Hector Moreno scored and was solid as Espanyol beat Granada 1-0, while Anaitz Arbilla was also on target as Rayo Vallecano thrashed Malaga 4-1. For Almeria, meanwhile, Marco Torsiglieri was brilliant as the Andalusians shut out then league leaders Atletico. Valencia’s Antonio Barragan makes up the back line following a fine display in his team’s 5-0 win over Betis.
In midfield, Cesc Fabregas shone in a brief cameo for Barcelona as he netted a fine fourth goal for Tata Martino’s side. Iago Falque scored twice for Rayo against Malaga and is also included, along with Almeria’s Verza, who struck both goals in his side’s 2-0 win on Saturday.
Leading from the front is Lionel Messi. The Argentine netted his first league goals in open play in La Liga since September with a superb double at Sevilla and showed he hasn’t lost his passion for the game. Meanwhile, Paco Alcacer hit two in Valencia’s 5-0 success and Humberto Osorio was on target twice as Valladolid drew 2-2 at home to Elche.