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Messi brace puts La Liga title within Barca's grasp

May 05, 2010 09:10 IST
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Barcelona took another big stride towards a second-straight La Liga triumph when top scorer Lionel Messi struck twice in a 4-1 home win over relegation threatened Tenerife on Tuesday.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (left) celebrates with team-mate Yaya Toure after scoring against TenerifeCarles Puyol's howler gifted the visitors an equaliser after Argentina forward Messi had put Barca ahead in the 17th minute before Bojan Krkic and substitute Pedro netted with clinical second-half strikes.

Messi grabbed a fourth in added time at a rain-lashed Nou Camp when he controlled a Daniel Alves pass and lifted the ball over Tenerife goalkeeper Sergio Aragoneses for his 31st league goal of the campaign.

With two matches left, Barca have a La Liga record 93 points, four clear of second-placed Real Madrid, who have a game in hand and can cut the gap back to one with a win at Champions League hopefuls Real Mallorca on Wednesday.

Barca's points total from 36 matches surpasses the 92 accumulated by Real Madrid under Fabio Capello in the 1996-97 campaign when there were 22 teams rather than 20.

Pep Guardiola's side took early control on a slick surface and Brazil right back Alves fluffed one good opening before providing the cross that led to Messi's opener.

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic nodded the ball into the World Player of the Year's path and he chipped a delicate shot from close range that evaded desperate lunges by Aragoneses and defender Pablo Sicilia.

Messi came close to a second with a curled shot in the 22nd minute before captain Puyol squandered posesssion and Daniel Kome sent Roman Martinez clear to score with a neat finish past Barca keeper Victor Valdes six minutes before halftime.

Alves released Bojan to score with an angled drive in the 63rd and Pedro, who replaced injured Spain centre back Gerard Pique at the break, ran on to Messi's deflected pass to score a third that ricocheted in off Aragoneses.

Alves conjured another assist in the 93rd minute, Messi bringing the ball down with his left foot and finishing neatly with his right.

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