Not content with his status as the most gifted player of his generation and possibly of all-time, Lionel Messi has honed his craft as one of football’s best free-kick takers and on Saturday scored twice to give Barcelona a derby win over Espanyol.
Despite only finishing fifth in this year’s Ballon d’Or vote, Messi served up a reminder of his outrageous talent with not one but two sensational strikes in the 4-0 win – the first time the Argentinian star has scored from two direct free-kicks in the same league game.
Messi first found the top corner after 17 minutes to break the deadlock and despite being a constant threat to the Espanyol defence it was Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suárez who extended Barcelona’s lead.
Barcelona weren’t done there and shortly after the hour mark, Messi added his second – another break taking strike from even further out that left goalkeeper Diego López grasping at thin air.
Another sensational Messi set-piece – this time from further out – completed the victory and ensured Barcelona remain at the top of LaLiga.
Eibar and Levante served up a thrilling 4-4 draw on Sunday in LaLiga and Gonzalo Escalante headed his third goal of the season to bring Eibar level at 2-2 shortly after half time.
The home side would go on to take a two-goal lead but saw Levante claw it back and snatch an injury time point.
Giovani Lo Celso notched his third of the league season as Real Betis defeated Rayo Vallecano. The 22-year-old is hugely impressing in Spain and kept his cool to slot in the opening goal from the penalty spot.
His midfield partner for Argentina, Leandro Paredes was also on target from 12 yards but unfortunately for the former Boca Juniors playmaker, Zenit St. Petersburg slipped to a shock 2-1 defeat against Rubin Kazan.
Another of La Albiceleste’s new generation, Giovanni Simeone netted only his third goal of the Serie A season helping Fiorentina come back to claim a point away to Sassuolo.
The home side scored two quick second half goals to take a commanding lead but Simeone’s quick reactions from a rebound off the post swiftly pulled Fiorentina back in it.
Sassuolo restoring their lead meant the Viola needed another in the 89th minute before Kevin Miralles’ dramatic 96th minute equaliser.
Ezequiel Ponce scored yet again in Greece as AEK climbed to fourth after a 2-0 win over Lamia.
The 21-year-old’s powerful volley opened the scoring and Ponce’s seventh of the season put AEK on the path to another three points.
Meanwhile the Liga MX season went into the final straight and Argentinians played a key role in setting up this year’s exciting Apertura final between Club América and Cruz Azul.
Cruz Azul edged past Monterrey thanks to Milton Caraglio’s second half goal, making amends for the striker’s earlier penalty miss. The 1-0 win made it 1-1 on aggregate and with no away goals, Cruz Azul were able to book their first spot in the final since 2013 due to their superior seeding.
Mexico City rivals Club América made far lighter work of their semi final after a 6-1 second leg demolition of Pumas.
All square after the first leg, when Pumas cancelled out the home side’s early opener in the Azteca it looked as though it could be a close affair. However, two América goals before the break but the Eagles in charge and when Guido Rodríguez smashed in a fourth soon after the break the tie was over.
Emanuel Aguilera completed the rout from the penalty spot but the midfield battle between América’s Guido Rodríguez and Cruz Azul’s Iván Marcone makes for an intriguing final.