Lionel Messi scored for the seventh time in four La Liga games as champions Barcelona scrapped their way to a hard-fought 2-1 win at Getafe on Sunday that propelled them five points clear at the top of the table.
Messi, La Liga’s top scorer this season, opened his account for 2019 with his 16th goal, giving Barca a 20th minute lead as he tucked the ball into the net from a tight angle after his initial shot was saved by the legs of Getafe keeper David Soria.
It took the Argentine’s career tally to a staggering 399 goals in La Liga before Uruguay striker Luis Suarez doubled Barca’s advantage in the 39th with a spectacular volley from outside the box.
Yet Getafe hit back two minutes before the interval with a close-range finish from striker Jaime Mata after a splendid team move and continued to push hard after the break.
Barca, who have won seven out of the last 10 La Liga titles, now lead the standings on 40 points after 18 games, stretching the gap to five points over their nearest pursuers Atletico Madrid, who drew 1-1 with third-placed Sevilla.
The Catalans are 10 points ahead of European champions Real Madrid, whose struggles continued with a 2-0 home defeat by Real Sociedad.
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