Lionel Messi recorded a brace and Barcelona coasted past Real Betis during Saturday’s La Liga matchup at Nou Camp.
Both of the Argentinean’s goals resulted from penalties, with the first a left-footed strike buried with ease in the 15th minute and the second a quick rebound off a block from Betis keeper Antonio Adan in the 86th minute.
Messi now has 25 goals on the year despite missing a stretch of games due to injury, and Barcelona kept pace with Atletico Madrid, who dispatched Villarreal, 1-0, earlier in the day.
Betis defender Jordi Figueras committed an own goal in the 67th, which wiped away the possible effects of Ruben Castro’s goal one minute later.
Figueras attempted to block a through ball from the Catalans Alexis Sanchez to a streaking Messi near the top of the net, but his slide instead deflected the ball right past Adan.
Castro scored his ninth goal of the year by slinging an impressive right-footed shot past three diving Barcelona defenders. The goal would have been an equalizer that possibly changed the circumstances of the match had it not been for Figueras's blunder.