Messi magic brings Barca through for first Liga win in over a month

After a goalless first half, the Argentine helped set up the opener for Luis Suarez and scored two himself to negotiate a fixture that has caused the club problems in the past

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Barcelona returned to winning ways in La Liga for the first time since November 6. After draws against Malaga, Real Sociedad and Real Madrid in the Primera Division, Luis Enrique's side were in need of a strong performance on Saturday but also a positive result. Luckily, as so often in the past, Lionel Messi was on hard to inspire them.

Suarez and Messi fire Barca to victory

Barca have had trouble on their trips to Pamplona in the past. Amid the intense and hostile atmosphere of El Sadar, the Catalans lost 3-2 there in the Pep Guardiola era and were held to a goalless draw in their last visit, with Tata Martino in charge.

Osasuna, however, are bottom of La Liga now and seriously struggling. So unsurprisingly, this match was fairly one-sided from the outset. And Barca, with Neymar suspended, should have been ahead early on as Luis Suarez missed good chances, firing wide following a marvellous Messi pass and then hitting the post.

There were also opportunities for Messi, Iniesta and Samuel Umtiti and as half time arrived, Barca would have wondered how they were not ahead. After three straight draws in La Liga, again it looked like things may go against them.

But Messi had other ideas and the gulf in quality between these two teams told in the end. The Argentine popped up all over the pitch, drifting inside and dropping deep into midfield - and it was from that position where he initiated a decisive move after 59 minutes, cutting the Osasuna defence open with a pass to Jordi Alba who in turn squared for Suarez to make it 1-0.

Messi improves on remarkable record against Osasuna

It was fairly simple stuff but extremely effective, and Alba was involved again as Messi made it two, the left-back cutting back from the byline and taking extra responsibility in attack in the absence of Neymar.

And Messi put the cherry on top with a stunning strike in added time as defenders fell over themselves to try and stop him. As usual, they were unable to do so and the Argentine fired home with aplomb to make it 17 goals in his last nine league appearances against Osasuna.

It was just what Barcelona needed after recent results and especially the disappointment of being held at home to Madrid in the Clasico last weekend as Sergio Ramos headed a late leveller at Camp Nou.

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With Iniesta back in the groove, Barca look themselves once again as the Spain midfielder makes Messi even more effective. Following three successive draws in La Liga, this was much better from the Blaugrana.

Now they will wait and see how Madrid get on at home to Deportivo later on Saturday, but with Messi on this form and Iniesta restored following his recent injury, the Catalans can still have a significant say in this title race.