Messi scores two as the champions return to Primera Division summit
Lionel Messi scores two and Xavi grabs a rare header as the Catalan club secure a routine win over Hector Cuper's side to keep them top, a point ahead of rivals Real Madrid
A Lionel Messi brace and a Xavi header were enough to give Barcelona a much deserved 3-0 victory over a lacklustre Racing Santander at Camp Nou this evening.
Pep Guardiola's side were in charge of the game from the kick-off, and their possession paid off in the 11th minute when Andres Iniesta picked up the ball just inside the Racing box on the right-hand side and reversed a pass into Lionel Messi, who, with six defenders around him, flicked the ball out of trouble and dragged it past Tono before finishing from a tight angle.
Barcelona grabbed their second goal of the match in the 27th minute and it was far too simple for the hosts from a Racing point of view. Pedro picked up the ball on the left hand-side and clipped a lovely cross into the edge of the six yard box for Xavi who ghosted in unmarked to guide a header into the bottom right corner.
It should have been three for Barcelona in the 36th minute when Xavi found space on the right hand-side of the Racing box and slipped a pass through to Pedro, who got to the byline and crossed along the goal for Puyol, but the Barcelona captain somehow scuffed his shot from a yard out and Tono in the Racing goal managed to gather.
Barca took the game far beyond Racing in the 68th minute when Iniesta showed incredible skill in the box to neatly juggle the ball over two challenges before rifling a left-footed half volley off the right-hand post before Messi smashed in the rebound for his second goal of the match.
In front of a vibrant Camp Nou crowd, the hosts dominated the match for most of the 90 minutes, and should have added to their lead on a few occasions. David Villa should have done better in the 82nd minute when he found some room just inside the Racing box to the right but ended up blazing the ball over the bar.
Eric Abidal also came close minutes later when he attempted the spectacular overhead kick from eight yards out but Tono managed to make the save.
This result shoots Barcelona straight back to the top of La Liga on 17 points whereas Racing find themselves still on four points and languishing in the relegation zone.