Lionel Messi spared Barcelona’s blushes with the winning goal in a 3-2 win over Villarreal on Sunday to keep the pressure on leaders Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
Barca twice fell behind at Camp Nou, but fought back strongly to seal all three points and end Villarreal’s 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
It looked as though they might extend that sequence when on-loan Real Madrid man Denis Cheryshev put Villarreal ahead in the 30th minute, but Neymar brought the hosts level on the stroke of half-time.
Luciano Vietto restored the visitors’ lead soon after the break, but goals three minutes apart from Rafinha and Messi put Barca in control.
Rafinha’s effort was a scrappy effort, but Messi’s – his 22nd goal in La Liga this season – was typically anything but as he caressed the ball into the net from the edge of the box.
The win moves Luis Enrique’s side back to within one point of fierce rivals Real Madrid at the Liga summit, after Carlo Ancelotti’s side thumped Real Sociedad 4-1 on Saturday.