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The Chilean has defended his Barcelona team-mate as he continues to struggle for goals and admits he was thrilled to score the winner against a spirited Espanyol side

Alexis Sanchez has defended the form of Lionel Messi, insisting the Barcelona star is "the same as always" despite his recent goal drought.

Messi scored just once throughout October and failed to find the net again on Friday as Barca battled to a 1-0 win over city rivals Espanyol.

But Alexis maintains the Argentina international is contributing a huge amount to the side.

"Leo is in the same form as always. He hasn't been scoring goals but he has provided assists and taking on players. We think he's the same as always, playing very well," he was quoted as saying by AS.

Alexis converted Neymar's pinpoint cross for the only goal of the game at Camp Nou on Friday, taking the 24-year-old's tally to seven goals in nine Liga matches.

And he admits he was relieved to break the deadlock against a spirited visiting defence.

"It was a very difficult game as it was tough and physical for us," the former Udinese attacker said.

"All of Espanyol's players sat back behind the ball, but I go home happy with my goal. I was in the right place at the right time.

"We won and go home relaxed after getting three crucial points."

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