Lionel Messi marked his record-equalling 767th appearance for Barcelona with a stunning brace in a 4-1 home win over Huesca.
The result moved Ronald Koeman’s side to within four points of Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga, with the resurgent Camp Nou outfit leapfrogging rivals Real Madrid into second place.
It took Messi - who is now equal with Xavi's all-time Barca appearance record - just 13 minutes to find the back of the net with a long-range effort that crashed in off the underside of the bar before Antoine Griezmann did similar, picking out the top corner with a left-footed strike from 20 yards out.
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Huesca gave themselves a lifeline at the end of the first half as Rafa Mir converted from the penalty spot, but Barcelona restored their two-goal cushion not long into the second period as Oscar Mingueza headed home a Messi cross.
Messi grabbed a second goal to put the finishing touches on the victory in the 90 minutes, striding into space to lash a low strike past Alvaro Fernandez, bringing his tally for the season to 27 goals.
Barcelona have now won 10 of their last 11 league games, reviving their title chances as Atleti have allowed their form to dip in recent weeks. This result and performance added to the Catalans’ momentum.

'Messi is most important man in Barca's history' - Koeman

TALKING POINT - Reports of Messi’s demise have been greatly exaggerated

Earlier this season, many saw a Messi who had given up on life at Barcelona. The Argentine made no secret of his disgruntlement at the Camp Nou last summer and this seemed to translate into a number of lethargic performances. However, Messi’s stunning strike in this match brought his tally to the 2020/21 campaign to 27 goals and 12 assists in all competitions. In this sort of form, Barcelona might even be La Liga title favourites. Can anyone stop the Argentine?

Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring for Barcelona

Image credit: Getty Images

MAN OF THE MATCH - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

This was an historic night for Messi and he marked it with one of his best performances of the season. The 33-year-old got things started with a trademark strike off the underside of the bar, then provided an inch-perfect assist for Mingueza to score his first La Liga goal, calming some Barcelona nerves after Huesca’s goal at the end of the first half, then finished things with another long-range goal. Messi is still the player through which the Catalans’ attacking play flows.

PLAYER RATINGS

Barcelona - Ter Stegen 6, Dest 6, Mingueza 8, Lenglet 5, Alba 6, De Jong 7, Busquets 7, Pedri 8, Dembele 6, Griezmann 7, Messi 9.
Subs - Trincao 3, Aruajo 6, Ilaix 5, Braithwaite 4, Puig 4.
Huesca - Alvaro 6, Pulido 5, Siovas 5, Insua 5, Maffeo 7, Doumbia 6, Rico 5, Galan 5, Ferreiro 5, Mir 6, Escriche 5.
Subs - Gomez 4, Seoane 4, Lopez 4, Vavro 3, Ontiveros 3.

KEY MOMENTS

13’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Huesca: What a way to break the deadlock! The ball broke for Messi 20 yards out from goal and he curled the strike in off the underside of the crossbar! That's 20 goals for the season! He celebrates his 767th appearance for Barca with his 660th goal!
34’ Off the crossbar! So close to Alba adding a second goal for Barcelona! The left back was played to the byline, the option was there for the cut-back, but he shoots himself off the woodwork!
35’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Huesca: Another long-range strike and Barcelona now have a two-goal lead! The space opened up for Griezmann and the French forward bent a left-footed strike into the top corner of the net! That was potentially even better than Messi's!
40’ Off the woodwork again! Alba plays a dangerous cross into the box, de Jong stretches to loop a finish over the goalkeeper, but the ball bounces off the crossbar and Huesca survive!
45’ PENALTY KICK TO HUESCA! The referee has pointed to the spot for a nudge on Mir as he attempted to get on the end of a cross!
45+3’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Huesca: There was a lengthy delay as the officials checked the penalty decision. The spot kick stands and Mir makes no mistake in converting from 12 yards out! Huesca have given themselves a lifeline in this match right at the end of the first half!
54’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-1 Huesca: Barcelona have restored their three-goal advantage as Mingueza gets up highest to head home Messi's cross! Huesca afforded the number 10 so much time and space to get the delivery into the penalty area! That's Mingueza's first Liga goal!
57’ How did that stay out?! That should have been a second Huesca goal! Escriche headed back across goal and Mir chested (!) over the crossbar from the goal line! What was he doing there?!
90’ GOAL! Barcelona 4-1 Huesca: A second goal for Messi and a fourth goal for Barcelona! Huesca simply afforded the Argentine far too much space in the centre of the pitch and he lashes home a finish from outside the box to put the finishing touches on this Barca victory!

KEY STATS

Lionel Messi has now equalled Xavi Hernandez’s record of 767 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona.
Messi is now the first player ever to score 20 or more goals in 13 consecutive La Liga seasons.
Antoine Griezmann ended his nine-game run without a goal for Barcelona which dated back to February 3rd.
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