Messi's double lifts Barca over Villarreal

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 6:31 PM ET

BARCELONA - Lionel Messi had two goals in the second half and Barcelona beat Villarreal, 3-1, on Saturday at the Camp Nou to move into first place in Spain's La Liga.

Barca's David Villa and Villarreal's Nilmar traded goals in the first half but Messi secured the victory with goals in the 58th and 83rd, both off assists by Pedro.

Barcelona moved two points ahead of idle Real Madrid, which plays Sunday. The Yellow Submarines remain third, but slipped five points behind the new leader.

Barcelona nearly took the lead inside 15 minutes when Dani Alves' cross to the back post found Messi, but the Argentinean's header toward the left side was saved by Villarreal goalie Diego Lopez.

Villa followed with the first goal in the 22nd minute when Andres Iniesta used a perfectly-weighted pass to send him into the area alone, and the ex-Valencia man slotted inside the right post for his sixth goal.

Nilmar responded with his seventh goal of the season for Villarreal just four minutes later, as he took a pass from Joan Capdevila and slipped a shot in off the right post.

Barca regained the lead early in the second half when Pedro and Messi worked a quick passing sequence at the edge of the area, with the final pass from Pedro putting Messi into the area on the right.

Messi ran onto the ball and, from a tight angle from the side of the six-yard box, chipped over Lopez to convert a nearly impossible shot for his ninth goal of the season.

Pedro and Messi combined on the clinching goal in the final 10 minutes, as the ball was played in from the right by Pedro and Messi skillfully converted to the bottom left with one touch from six yards for his 10th goal of the season.

Diego Forlan scored twice and added an assist as Atletico Madrid beat Osasuna, 3-0, at Vincente Calderon to climb to fifth in the standings. Kun Aguero also scored for Atletico, which had a man advantage for the final 30 minutes.

Forlan began the scoring in the 26th with a shot to the lower-right corner and Aguero doubled the lead before half when he took a pass from Forlan and found the lower right. Forlan converted a pass from Simao in the 70th for the brace.

Also Saturday, Fernando Llorente scored his eighth goal of the season in the 10th minute and nine-man Athletic Bilbao held on to edge Almeria, 1-0, at the Estadio San Mames to move into the top half of the standings.

Mikel San Jose missed a penalty in the sixth minute for Bilbao, but Llorente got on the end of a cross from Igor Martinez and converted to the lower right, which stood up despite the ejections of Koikili Del Campo and Xabier Castillo.

On Sunday, Real Zaragoza hosts Sevilla, Hercules hosts Real Sociedad, Racing hosts Espanyol, Malaga hosts Levante, Mallorca hosts Deportivo, Sporting Gijon hosts Real Madrid, and Valencia hosts Getafe.


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