La Liga: Lionel Messi on target again as Barcelona beat Leganes to put pressure back on Real Madrid

Lionel Messi was rugby tackled and then scored a penalty as Barcelona put the pressure back on Real Madrid with a 2-0 victory over Leganes at an empty Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Messi was hauled to the ground in the first half by a diving Unai Bustinza wrapping two arms around his waist and he was knocked over again in the second, this time earning a penalty, which he converted.

After 33 appearances, Messi now has 26 goals this season. In his last eight games, he has seven goals and eight assists.

The 17-year-old Ansu Fati had earlier given Barcelona the lead, continuing his breakthrough season with a fifth goal in eight league starts.

Leganes could have made the reigning champions feel uncomfortable if Miguel-Angel Guerrero had taken either of two golden early opportunities but the first was cleared off the line and the second denied by the post.

“We had a bit of luck at the beginning,” admitted Barca coach Quique Setien. But his team’s reward for a rather underwhelming performance is a five-point advantage over Madrid, who can reduce that back to two by winning at home to Valencia on Thursday.

Valencia will be a more thorough examination of Madrid’s sharpness after the three-month break and Barca can expect tougher…

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