Messi double helps Barca beat persistent Valencia

Barcelona wins 4-2 to stay on the heels of La Liga leader Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi in action in the La Liga game on Sunday night.   -  AFP

Lionel Messi scored twice as La Liga champion Barcelona saw off a persistent Valencia side, which had Eliaquim Mangala sent off in the first half, to win 4-2 on Sunday and stay on the heels of leader Real Madrid.

Match Centre

Manchester City loanee Mangala stunned the Nou Camp by heading Valencia in front in the 29th minute but Luis Suarez soon cancelled out the opener following a quick throw-in by Neymar and the Uruguayan then won a penalty as he was hauled down by Mangala, who was sent off for a second booking.

Messi beat penalty-saving expert Diego Alves from the spot for the second time this season to pull Barca level in the 45th minute but Munir El Haddadi, who is on loan from the Catalans, equalised immediately in injury time of the first half. Barca dominated the second half and took the lead for the second time when Messi smashed the ball past Alves's near post but the visiting side created one chance to level again which Munir squandered.

Former Valencia midfielder Andre Gomes then scored his first goal for Barcelona to make sure of the points.

Barca is second in the standings on 63 points, two behind Real which has a game in hand.

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