Messi, Suarez on target as Barcelona sweep past Levante

Sunday 7th January , 2018 7:52 pm

Lionel Messi marked his 400th Barcelona appearance with a goal as the La Liga leaders maintained their nine-point advantage with victory over Levante.

Messi opened the scoring at the Nou Camp, chipping the ball to Jordi Alba and volleying home the return.

His 365th La Liga goal equalled Gerd Muller’s record for goals in a single one of Europe’s top five leagues.

Luis Suarez produced a superb strike before half-time and Paulinho tapped in a third in second-half stoppage time.

Suarez stepped over Messi’s low ball across the six-yard box, affording Paulinho a simple finish for his seventh league goal of the season.

Suarez, took his own tally to 11 and could have added more but for a fine Oier save in the second period.

Aside from a Marc-Andre ter Stergen save to keep out Shaquell Moore in a one-on-one opportunity, Barca eased to victory, extending their run to 26 matches unbeaten in all competitions.

Messi’s goal – his 16th in La Liga this season – means he needs to score just once more to surpass the record Muller set while playing for Bundesliga side Bayern Munich between 1964 and 1979.

The three points cancelled out second-placed Atletico Madrid’s win over Getafe on Saturday to restore a nine-point advantage.

The success also arrived in a good-news week for the club as they finally landed long-term transfer target Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool, with the Brazilian set to be confirmed as a Barca player imminently.

It is not yet clear how Coutinho will fit into Barca’s line-up, with some predicting he will be a long-term replacement for 33-year-old midfielder Andres Iniesta, who made his 650th club appearance.

Coutinho was not at the game, with reports in Spain suggesting he will complete a medical at Barcelona on Monday with a presentation to follow soon after.

Source: BBC Sport