La Liga news - Lionel Messi shines again as Barcelona cut Atletico Madrid's lead to four points
La Liga, Realle Arena - Real Sociedad 1 (Barrenetxea 77) Barcelona 6 (Griezmann 37, Dest 43, 53, Messi 56, 90, Dembele 71)
Barcelona's Barcelona's US defender Sergino Dest celebrates with Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (back) after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Sociedad and Barcelona
Barcelona continued their good run of domestic form with a 6-1 thumping of Real Sociedad as Lionel Messi bagged a brace and Antoine Griezmann scored on his return to his former club.
The result keeps the Camp Nou side in second place in La Liga and within four points of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table after their narrow 1-0 home win over Alaves earlier in the day.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen made an important save from Alexander Isak with Sergino Dest also striking the crossbar before Griezmann broke the deadlock, finishing on the rebound after Alex Remiro had denied Ousmane Dembele.
Dest doubled Barcelona’s advantage before half time, controlling a Messi pass and finishing into the far corner of the Real Sociedad as the visitors to the Anoeta tightened their grip on the match.
Barca added a third in the second half as Dest converted a Jordi Alba cut back from the byline before Messi added his name to the scoresheet with an exceptional touch and finish from a Sergio Busquets pass over the top.
Dembele had a goal ruled out due to a dubious offside call before he capped the scoring for Barcelona at five, driving through the middle of the Real Sociedad defence to find the far corner of the net.
Ander Barrenetxea scored a stunning solo effort late on to momentarily reduce the deficit to four goals only for Messi to restore the five-goal cushion following a wonderful passing move involving Alba and Riqui Puig.
TALKING POINT - Barcelona’s momentum in the title race continues to build
Not so long ago, this was shaping up to be a season to forget for Barcelona. Now, though, Koeman’s side have a Copa del Rey final to look forward to and have won 12 of their last 13 games to drag themselves back into the title race at the top of La Liga. With Atletico Madrid struggling for consistent form, Barca have momentum behind them and must be taken seriously as title contenders. This season could still end in glory for them.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Sergino Dest (Barcelona)
The United States international has been one of the biggest success stories of Barcelona’s season so far and this performance illustrated all that Dest offers. He scored his first La Liga goal by firing a low finish into the back of the net from a Messi pass and converted an Alba cut back in the second half, also providing width down the right side throughout. Dest is the natural heir to Dani Alves Barcelona have been looking for at right back for years.
Antoine Griezmann of FC Barcelona celebrates 0-1 during the La Liga Santander match between Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona at the Estadio Reale Arena on March 21, 2021 in San Sebastian Spain
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 8, Dest 9, Mingueza 7, Lenglet 6, Alba 8, De Jong 8, Busquets 8, Pedri 6, Dembele 8, Messi 8, Griezmann 7. Subs - Ilaix 5, Araujo 5, Puig 6, Trincao 3, Braithwaite 3.
35’ Off the crossbar! Dest beats Le Normand to the byline and gets the cross into the box, but Remiro tips on to the woodwork! Inches away from being a freak opener for Barcelona!
36’ GOAL! Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcelona: The breakthrough has been made and Griezmann has found the net against his former side! Remiro made a reflex save from Dembele and his French team-mate was on hand to convert the rebound from only a few yards out!
43’ GOAL! Real Sociedad 0-2 Barcelona: There's a second Barcelona goal before the break and Dest finds the back of the net! Messi picks out the run of the American international and he makes no mistake in finishing past Remiro! Barca deserve their advantage!
53’ GOAL! Real Sociedad 0-3 Barcelona: Barcelona have a third and Dest has a second! Alba got to the byline down the left side and waited to make the pass to Dest. When he did play the ball the American right back was on hand to convert into the back of the net!
71’ GOAL! Real Sociedad 0-5 Barcelona: This is turning into a rout now! Dembele was denied by the offside flag not so long ago, but he won't be denied this one! The Frenchman was given so much space to drive into and he finishes into the bottom corner!
77’ GOAL! Real Sociedad 1-5 Barcelona: It might be nothing more than a consolation goal, but what a strike by Barrenetxea! A solo effort from the substitute who runs through the Barcelona midfield before finding the top corner! There wasn't all that much Barca could have done to stop that!
90’ GOAL! Real Sociedad 1-6 Barcelona: That's a wonderful goal and Barcelona now have six for the evening! Alba and Puig played a lovely passing move inside the box, the ball was cut back for Messi and the Argentine made no mistake in finishing into the net! Exceptional!
Lionel Messi has now scored or assisted in each of his last 14 La Liga games, a run stretching back to December 16.
Messi has now played more games for Barcelona than any other player in the club's history, breaking Xavi's record of 767 appearances in all competitions.