Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele lead Barcelona to victory
Dembele’s recent good form continued with another goal.
Barcelona reclaimed outright control of the LaLiga table with a 2-0 win against Celta Vigo at the Nou Camp.
Ernesto Valverde’s side began the game in second place after Atletico Madrid’s win earlier in the day but first-half goals from Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi saw Barcelona rise back to the summit.
Valverde made just one change from the team that started the 5-0 thrashing of Levante last weekend, with defender Thomas Vermaelen dropped and replaced by Nelson Semedo.
Celta were quickest out of the blocks and went close in the third minute when Nestor Araujo headed the ball over the crossbar following a corner.
Barcelona soon found their stride, though, and went in front after 10 minutes. Good link up play between Messi and Jordi Alba created a chance for the Argentinian and Dembele was on hand to tap home from close range after the goalkeeper had blocked Messi’s effort.
With the lead, Barcelona began to dominate possession. They were just lacking the final pass. However, they were almost caught out midway through the first half on the counter attack and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen had to make a good save to deny Maximiliano Gomez.
It finally clicked again for the hosts in the final minute of the first half when Messi fired home a powerful curling shot after a quick pass from Alba found him running free through the middle.
Celta were still a threat and Brais Mendez had Ter Stegen scrambling across his goal with a driven shot that flew just wide at the start of the second half.
Luis Suarez had been largely anonymous until he missed a glorious chance after an hour, with his first-time effort from Alba’s pass rolling wide when it looked easier to score.
11 - Lionel Messi is the only player from the top five European leagues to score 15+ league goals in each of the last 11 seasons. Fantastic. pic.twitter.com/em14nes8q8— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 22, 2018
Ruben Blanco made a fine double save midway through the second half to deny Semedo and then Messi, while at the other end Ter Stegen somehow kept out Robert Mazan’s deflected shot when it looked like Celta would score and be back in the match.
Mendez worked the Barcelona goalkeeper again before the end but Valverde’s side won while not being at their best and head into the winter break with a three-point lead over Atletico.