Messi again the hero as Barcelona defeats Villarreal 14-Nov-2010

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates a goal against Villarreal during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, November 13, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

BARCELONA, Spain, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Leo Messi was the hero once again for FC Barcelona as the Argentinean international scored two vital goals in his side’s 3-1 win at home to Villarreal.

The match kicked off with Barcelona second and Villarreal third in the table, two points behind and ended with Barca opening up a five point lead over their rivals to virtually assure the race for the title in Spain is once again between them and Real Madrid.

The game was poised at 1-1 13 minutes into the second half, when Messi scored the first of his goals, while his second of the game assured the win for Pep Guardiola’s side in what had threatened to become a frustrating night for them in the Camp Nou.

With central defenders Gerard Pique and Gabi Milito out through suspension and injury, Barcelona started with Eric Abidal alongside Carles Puyol in central defense, while coach Pep Guardiola played David Villa, Leo Messi and Pedro in attack.

Villarreal coach Carlos Garrido kept faith with the side that had defeated Athletic Club 4-1 last week, which meant pacey duo Nilmar and Rossi led the line.

Barcelona began with the ball firmly in their control, but despite neat movement from Iniesta and Messi, they struggled to get a shot on goal until the 14th minute, when Villarreal keeper Diego Lopez palmed away Villa’s header from an Alves cross.

Villarreal looked to play on the break and Nilmar almost scored on 20 minutes after an error from Maxwell, but Barca keeper Victor Valdes saved well. It was a vital stop as a minute later David Villa scored his sixth goal of the season for Barca after a pass from Iniesta.

Barcelona's Villarreal celebrates a goa against l's during their Spanish first division soccer match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, November 13, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Pedro had the ball in the net again six minutes later, but referee Delgado Ferrero wrongly ruled the goal out for offside and a minute later Nilmar equalized following a run and a lifted shot over Valdes.

The goal was greeted with a wave of protest against the referee and began to protest every decision, such as the one that led to Rossi taking a free kick that Valdes saved low to his left.

The second half started with Barca looking nervous, but Leo Messi put them back in front just before the hour, lifting the ball over Lopez from a tight angle following a quickly taken free kick and an exchange of passes with Pedro.

Barcelona were again in control, but Guardiola opted for caution and replaced Villa with Seydou Keita soon afterwards, while Villarreal brought on winger Jefferson Montero on for Borja Valero.

Messi assured the points after 37 minutes of the second half when he was able to tap Pedro’s deflected shot home from close range, although replays showed that him to be marginally offside.


Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) vies the ball against Villareal's Carlos Marchena (L) during their Spanish first division soccer match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, November 13, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)