Atlético Madrid dropped two points at Getafe on Saturday, meaning Barça’s first Monday night fixture for a decade offered the chance to move even closer to the leaders. And the blaugrana made no mistake against Huesca, still bottom of the table but much improved since a change of manager.
The Aragonese side had conceded eight goals on their only two previous visits to the Camp Nou. Today’s game was nothing like those, but even so, it never really looked like the Catalans were going to get anything else than the full three points.
Messi’s the man
Leo Messi was already the man of the moment. On the day he equalled Xavi’s record number of appearances for Barça, and after collecting La Liga’s February Player of the Month trophy shortly before kick-off, he then opened the scoring with a goal worthy of the occasion.
On the edge of the D, he curled a left-footer so tightly into the top left corner that it bounded in off the crossbar on the way in. It was the kind of goal that many would be happy to score just once in a lifetime. For Messi, it’s business as usual.
That was his 20th league goal on the season, and this is the 13th season a row he’s reached that mark. A tournament record – obviously!
Barça’s second goal entered via the same top left corner, and was just as brilliant as the first. It came from longer range, where Antoine Griezmann was allowed ample time and space to line up an absolute scorcher – his seventh league goal of the season.
It also made him only the second Frenchman (after Karim Benzema) to score 150 goals in La Liga.
With Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong sending first half shots onto the bar, Barça looked to have this one well and truly under control…. But there was a twist in the tale on the edge of half time. Huesca were given a hotly disputed penalty – whatever contact Ter Stegen did make with Melero López only looked very minimal.
Huesca’s top scorer Rafa Mir converted from the spot, and the visitors were back in it.
Barça refused to let the setback worry them too much. No sooner were the sides back out on the pitch and they had restored the two-goal cushion. Following a corner, Messi swooped in the cross and it was Óscar Mingueza who met it – and headed in his first ever senior goal. What a day for the young centre-back!
Rafa Mir should have pulled one straight back for Huesca, but instead his botched header will do down as one of the biggest bloopers of the season.
All credit to the visitors, they were determined that they could still make a game of this. Most of the late chances went their way, but it was nothing that couldn’t be kept in check, and it would end up being Barça who’d get the final goal of the game.
It was classic Leo Messi. Give him the slightest sniff of a goal and he’ll take it. A simply sublime finish, another brace for his collection and more importantly, three more points in the Barça bag that have left the top of the league table looking very, very interesting indeed.