Barcelona beat Elche 3-0 this evening at Camp Nou in La Liga. The result meant that they regained third place by overtaking Sevilla, who in turn had leap-frogged them on Monday evening. The Blaugrana now sit on 50 points, two behind Real Madrid and five behind Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona struggled during the first half to really assert themselves on the game, but Lionel Messi‘s presence proved pivotal at the beginning of the second half. The Argentine carried the ball from deep, performing a one-two with Martin Braithwaite, before slotting home with a golazo to give Barcelona the lead.
Messi scored his second just as the game was heading into the final 20 minutes to all but secure the three points for Barcelona and put himself in pole position in the race for the Pichichi. Frenkie de Jong carried the ball from deep expertly before unselfishly squaring for the Argentine, who finished nonchalantly. Messi was involved again in Barcelona’s third, hiking a high ball into Braithwaite who centred for Jordi Alba to finish.
“On a mental level [the victory] helps us a lot,” Alba admitted post-match in comments carried by Marca. “It’s true that the draw the other day [against Cadiz, when Barcelona blew the chance to apply pressure to Atletico] was a hard blow for the whole team. If we aren’t 100%, it’s difficult for us to win. The other day it cost us and it did in the first half today, as well. Then I think we improved and the goals arrived. There’s a title race.”