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La Liga

  • 17 November 2012
  • • 21:00
  • • Camp Nou, Barcelona
  • Referee: Miguel Ángel Ayza Gámez
  • • Attendance: 73428

Barcelona 3-1 Zaragoza: Magical Messi maintains Blaugrana's brilliant start

Barcelona 3-1 Zaragoza: Magical Messi maintains Blaugrana's brilliant start

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The Argentine sensation was at his predatory best, scoring twice in a game devoid of much goalmouth action to send the hosts further ahead at the top of the table

Barcelona incredible start to the Liga season continued with a 3-1 victory over Real Zaragoza at Camp Nou on Saturday night.

With Lionel Messi in deadly form once again, the Blaugrana made it 11 wins out of 12 in the new campaign with a professional and clinical performance in front of their home fans.

Messi opened the scoring 15 minutes into the game with a delightful move and finish, but Montanes pounced on a momentary defensive lapse to steer Zaragoza level 24 minutes in.

But four minutes later, Messi was at it again, this time teeing up Alex Song to score his first ever Barca goal since his summer move from Arsenal.

Messi added another brilliant effort on the hour mark to put the result beyond any doubt, and rack up his 50th goal in the 33 league games he has played in the calender year 2012, while putting the Blaugrana six points ahead of nearest challenges Atletico Madrid.

Carles Puyol returned from injury to begin the match alongside Gerard Pique in the home side's defence, which was further changed by the inclusion of Martin Montoya instead of Dani Alves at right-back.

For Zaragoza, Carlos Aranda won the battle to start ahead of Helder Postiga as the lone frontman for the visitors, despite the Portuguese's brace in the 5-3 win over Deportivo last weekend.

Barca needed only two minutes to carve out their first opening, when Jordi Alba delivered a low cross to the boot of Messi after a surging run down the left, but the Argentine drilled his first time effort wide of the post.

But on the quarter-hour mark, the pair would combine again to devastating effect. From out wide, Alba played Messi infield, whose first touch took Alvaro Gonzalez out of the equation, and allowed him the time and space to slot into the corner.

Zaragoza, to their credit, did not allow their heads to drop after conceding, and forced Barcelona into a bit of defending by winning a succession of corners.

And on one such set piece 24 minutes in, a slightly weak clearance from Martin Montoya was pounced on by Montanes, who drilled past Victor Valdes from the edge of the box via a slight nick off Puyol.

But four minutes later, Barcelona were back in front. Messi was the provider this time, jinking past two defenders on the left before showing great awareness to cut back to the unmarked Song to sidefoot home from 12 yards out.

Andres Iniesta nearly added a third moments later when he slipped past the defensive line on a threaded pass by Messi, but with the angle diminishing by the second, he could only hit the side netting.

The tempo of the game died down shortly after as Barca, for all their probing, did not manage to fashion another telling opportunity for the remainder of the half.

Zaragoza had shown enough in attack to suggest that they could cause problems if they were granted an opening, but they too seemed unable to lift their game to a level where amn equaliser would look like a possibility.

The pattern continued into the second half, but with one hour gone, Barca turned up the tempo just long enough to put the game out of reach of the visitors.

Messi started the move by releasing the unmarked Montoya down the right, and the fullback returned the ball to the Argentine at the top of the box, who then curled a delightful effort into the far side of the goal.

Zaragoza were utterly floored by the setback, and Barca were able to kill the game off with long spells of leisurely possession in the opposition half, forcing the already tired visitors into even more hard work off the ball.

In fact, Iniesta could have added a fourth late in the game, but after doing so well to evade his marker by cutting in off the flanks, crashed his effort onto the woodwork.

It mattered little though, as Barca were able to close out a professional performance with a deserved victory, while Messi moves ever closer to Gerd Muller's 85 goal record.