Published: Sun, December 09, 2018
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Messi's free-kick magic keeps Barca top

Messi's free-kick magic keeps Barca top

The five-time Ballon d'Or victor was inspirational for Barca, opening the scoring with an unstoppable free-kick, then setting up Ousmane Dembele for a superb curling finish.

Messi, who finished fifth in this year's Ballon d'Or vote, opened the scoring with a fine free-kick before picking out Ousmane Dembele to double the lead after 26 minutes.

Sevilla remain second after a draw away to Valencia, but they will be frustrated at only taking a point from their visit to the Mestalla Stadium.

To their credit Espanyol started the second half on top but they could do little to stop Messi, who beat Lopez again with another unbelievable free-kick in the 65th minute, this time from 30 yards.

The visitors were in complete control and could have been out of sight shortly afterwards as both Luis Suarez and Messi rattled the woodwork, but the Uruguayan did eventually add his name to the scoresheet on the stroke of the break to all but put the game to bed.

Espanyol defender Oscar Duarte looked to have scored a late consolation when he stabbed the ball in from close range.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates. Albert Gea Reuters
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates. Albert Gea Reuters

"We know what Leo is like, he doesn't need to demonstrate anything to us, we don't agree with the Ballon d'Or rankings", Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic said.

Barca's front three were all in fine form but Messi was the conductor at the heart of all their play.

The Argentina star finished fifth in this week's Ballon d'Or voting behind Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Cristiano Ronaldo and victor Luka Modric.

Messi is now the only player in LaLiga history to have scored 10 or more goals in 13 consecutive seasons.

That's eight more than the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea, seven better off than PSG, and five more than Barcelona's fierce rivals Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi scores two stunning free kicks as Barcelona record a 4-0 win over Espanyol in Saturday night's Catalan derby.

FULL LIST: How the players ranked in 2018 Ballon d’Or
Luka Modric was announced the 2018 Ballon d'Or victor ahead of five-time winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on Monday. The top 20 list for this year's Ballon d'Or is as follows.

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