Lionel Messi scored his third and fourth goal in just two games to inspire Barcelona to a 4-0 away win over Granada and draw the Catalans to within two points of Real Madrid.

Ronald Koeman was forced into a late change before kick off when Ronald Araujo suffered an injury in the warm up, with Samuel Umtiti handed the start in his place, but this didn’t stop Barca from starting well.

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Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring after 12 minutes, albeit in controversial circumstances when he finished after a deflected pass came his way. The Frenchman was offside when the ball was played, but the goal was allowed to stand after a VAR review.

Barcelona's French forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates with Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (back R) after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Granada and Barcelona at the Los Carmenes stadium in Granada on Januar

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Messi scored Barca’s second in trademark fashion, cutting inside on to his left before curling home a strike. And the Argentine netted again just before half time, going low under the wall from a freekick 20 yards out.

Griezmann added his second, and Barcelona’s fourth, of the night in the second half, latching on to an Ousmane Dembele scooped pass over the top before firing a low, opportunistic finish past Silva. Jesus Vallejo was shown a red card late on as Granada finished the match with 10 men.

The result takes Barcelona on to 34 points in the La Liga table, just two points behind Real Madrid who face Osasuna on Saturday evening. The postponement of Atletico Madrid’s home game against Athletic Club due to snow sees Barca move within four points of top spot.

TALKING POINT - Should Barcelona’s opener have stood?

There was great confusion over the award of Barcelona’s opening goal which appeared by a number of measures to be offside. Griezmann was offside when Sergio Busquets played his pass. The deflection from Roberto Soldado diverted the ball into Griezmann’s path, but the Frenchman was still offside when that deflection was made. The goal seemingly stood through a technicality in the offside law, but there will be continued discussion over whether or not Barca got slightly fortunate through this call.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Messi is back. The Argentine might have spent much of the first few months of the season playing within himself and moping around, but he has rediscovered his best form over Christmas and into the new year. Griezmann was impressive, but this was the quintessential Messi performance, from the wonderful goals he scored to the way he dictated his team’s attacking play throughout. It’s performances like these that remind us all what a remarkable talent the 33-year-old is. We must enjoy him while we still can

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Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (R) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Granada and Barcelona at the Los Carmenes stadium in Granada on January 9, 2021

Image credit: Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

Granada - Silva 6, Foulquier 6, German 5, Duarte 4, Neva 5, Eteki 5, Herrera 7, Montoro 5, Puertas 6, Machis 5, Soldado 4. Subs - Vallejo 3, Milla 5, Suarez 4, Soro 4.

Barcelona - Ter Stegen 7, Dest 6, Umtiti 6, Mingueza 6, Alba 6, Busquets 6, De Jong 7, Dembele 6, Messi 9, Pedri 7, Griezmann 8. Subs - Braithwaite 5, Pjanic 4, Trincao 3, Puig 4, Firpo 4..

KEY MOMENTS

12’ GOAL! Granada 0-1 Barcelona: A controversial opener! A pass through was deflected into Griezmann's path. The Frenchman made no mistake in finishing the opportunity, but he was surely offside when the pass was made? And yet the VAR review awards the goal to Barcelona!

36’ GOAL! Granada 0-2 Barcelona: An excellent break from Barcelona and Messi continues his good form with a wonderful goal! It was a trademark finish from the Argentine, moving the ball on to his left foot and curling a powerful finish past Silva in the Granada goal! Barca are 2-0 up!

43’ GOAL! Granada 0-3 Barcelona: Another Messi goal! Barcelona are three goals up before the half time interval and what a goal from the great man! Everyone was expecting Messi to go up and over the wall, but he goes low and finds the bottom corner of Silva's net!

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (3rdL) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Granada and Barcelona at the Los Carmenes stadium in Granada on January 9, 2021.

Image credit: Getty Images

63’ GOAL! Granada 0-4 Barcelona: Another brilliant goal! What a finish from Griezmann! Dembele scooped a pass into the path of his countryman inside the area, Griezmann brought it down and fires a low finish past Silva! This has been an excellent performance by Barca.

78’ SENT OFF! Granada have been reduced to 10 men late on here, with Vallejo shown a straight red card for bringing down Braithwaite after an excellent pass in behind by Puig.

KEY STATS

Lionel Messi has four goals in his last two games - his first brace in back-to-back La Liga games since March 2019.

Sergio Busquets made his 600th appearance for Barcelona in all competitions - only Xavi Hernandez (767), Lionel Messi (752) and Andres Iniesta (674) have made more.

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