Lionel Messi extended his remarkable La Liga scoring record to 17 straight games with Barcelona's second in a 2-0 win over bottom side Deportivo La Coruna at the Camp Nou.
The little Argentina forward replaced David Villa with 30 minutes remaining before sealing the win for the Spanish champions-elect on 88 minutes.
He showed off all his ingenuity when he fed Dani Alves before racing onto the return pass to chip the ball coolly beyond the bamboozled Daniel Aranzubía, who enjoyed a fine performance in the visiting goal for relegation-haunted Depor.
Messi has netted 41 goals in 27 league games this season - 209 in 241 games for his club.
Alexis Sanchez headed the opener for Barca when he met an Alves cross on 38 minutes.
Aranzubía managed to tip the ball onto a post before Sanchez followed up to score, but replays showed that the ball was already over the line with the grounded keeper failing to keep it out.
Despite opening up a 14-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid, Barca were never at their best and will have to improve significantly if they are to have any hope of overturning a 2-0 deficit from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against AC Milan when the Italians come calling on Tuesday.
Depor have lost seven of their past eight league games. They remain bottom of the table, four points behind second bottom Real Mallorca, and continue to stare relegation in the face.
But this defeat would have been heavier without the efforts of goalkeeper Aranzubía, especially in the first half.
Aranzubía made the first of several eye-catching saves to halt an effort by Alves on 11 minutes.
Cesc Fabregas then walloped a shot over the bar from 12 yards out when it looked easier to score.
Aranzubía was out of his goal quickly on 15 minutes to nudge the ball away from Cristian Tello after he had accepted a lovely pass from Thiago.
Barca continued to dominate as Silvio made a superbly timed tackle on Alexis after Tello drilled the ball across the face of goal. .
Aranzubía then came up with another brilliant save to deflect the ball onto the post after the cross had come off Aythami.
Barca were left scratching their heads when Aranzubía made two fine stops to deny David Villa then Adriano in quick succession.
Barca's opening goal did not exactly prompt the home side to feast on goals, but Depor were fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty in the second half when Juan Carlos clearly handled ball in the box with two hands, but the referee somehow missed it.
Unfortunately, for Depor, Messi wasn't in the mood for missing late on.
- Sports & Recreation
- Lionel Messi
- Dani Alves
- Deportivo La Coruna
- Daniel Aranzubía