Messi brace as Barcelona keep pressure on Real with easy win
Barcelona 7 - 1 Osasuna

Messi brace as Barcelona keep pressure on Real with easy win

Barcelona blitzed Osasuna with four goals in 10 second-half minutes to temporarily move three points clear at the top of La Liga with a 7-1 victory at the Camp Nou.

Luis Enrique rested several of his regular starters, including Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba -- an understandable move following gruelling matches against Juventus and Real Madrid, and before the weekend's derby at Espanyol.

It seemed it would not matter much after Lionel Messi struck early and Andre Gomes extended the lead before half-time.

However, the decision might have been briefly questioned when Roberto Torres pulled a goal back at the start of the second half.

However, Gomes and Messi both got their second goals of the evening either side of the hour mark to put the game to bed and Paco Alcacer and Javier Mascherano, the latter from the penalty spot, quickly added gloss to the scoreline with just 67 minutes on the clock.

Alcacer became the third player to net a double with four minutes remaining.

It was an emphatic scoreline to further increase confidence on the back of Sunday's El Clasico win over Real at the Bernabeu, although Zinedine Zidane's side get the chance to respond and close the gap when they travel to Deportivo La Coruna in the late game.

Osasuna were under pressure from the start and were caught out after only 12 minutes. The visitors attempted to knock the ball around at the back but Messi intercepted a loose pass and raced towards goal before flicking the ball over the advancing goalkeeper and into the net.

Messi should have done better than volley over the crossbar from 10 yards out shortly afterwards but Barcelona got their second goal after half an hour when Gomes showed good technique to stroke home a bouncing cross from Ivan Rakitic.

It was a huge surprise when Osasuna halved their deficit in the 48th minute, none more so to goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who remained rooted to the spot as Torres curled a free-kick over the defensive wall and into the far corner of the net.

It stung Barcelona back into life and Salvatore Sirigu did well to tip a Mascherano header wide, although Osasuna now had a taste for it and Ter Stegen had to beat away an effort from Miguel de las Cuevas.

Any Barcelona nerves were soon to be settled, however. Gomes got his second after 57 minutes when he was on hand to convert the rebound after Gerard Pique's shot had struck a post and Messi netted his second with a 20-yard curler.

Alcacer latched on to Arda Turan's pass to chip the ball over the advancing Sirigu before Mascherano blasted home a penalty after Denis Suarez was tripped by Fran Merida. It was the former Liverpool midfielder's first goal in his seven years at Barcelona.

Alcacer completed the rout in the 86th minute with a well-timed run and neat finish to leave Osasuna humiliated and on the brink of relegation -- which could be confirmed later on Wednesday night.

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