Lionel Messi surpassed 350 La Liga goals as his brace fired Barcelona to a hard-fought, 2-0 victory over Alaves on Saturday.
Messi scored his first goals of the season to maintain Barca's 100 percent start in La Liga, while Alaves suffered a second defeat in as many games.
Barca had Andres Iniesta back and Paulinho among their substitutes at Alaves, who started Enzo Zidane – son of Real Madrid boss Zinedine – on the bench.
The Blaugrana looked back to patient and probing best against the Basques but struggled to create chances. In contrast, Ruben Sobrino fluffed two glorious opportunities to put the hosts ahead.
The striker was found at the far post with a low cross but couldn’t slide the ball on target, before he broke clear down the left and veered into the box, only to shoot straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Barca’s first opportunity came from the penalty spot after Gerard Pique was dragged down by Rodrigo Ely from a corner in the box, but Messi’s curler to the left was Fernando Pacheco.
Nonetheless, the second half began with Jordi Alba teeing up the Argentine, who smashed the ball into the roof of Pacheco’s net via a deflection.
The No 10 then doubled his side’s advantage, capitalising on another deflection in the Alaves box, before blasting the ball home on the volley.
It could’ve been three for Messi and Catalans when Denis Suarez – shortly after replacing Gerard Deulofeu – laid off the superstar, whose shot clipped the woodwork.
As the game petered out, the chance arose for Paulinho to make his Barca bow, replacing none other than Iniesta.
Alaves 0-2 Barcelona
Messi 55, 66
Alaves: Pacheco; Vigaray, Ely, Alexis, Pedraza; Romero, Pina, Wakaso (Enzo 77), Manu, Ibai (Burgui 67); Sobrino (Christian Santos 78)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Vidal (Alcacer 57), Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta (Paulinho 88); Sergi Roberto, Messi, Deulofeu (Denis 71)
Referee: Del Cerro Grande