Lionel Messi scored a penalty and missed another as La Liga leaders Barcelona ground out an unconvincing 1-0 win over
Real Valladolid, while Antoine Griezmann surpassed Fernando Torres with his 130th goal for Atletico Madrid.
Messi’s fitness was again in the spotlight on Saturday after a niggling
thigh strain in recent weeks, but he completed the full 90 minutes at the
Camp Nou and hit the 30-goal mark at Barcelona for the 11th straight season.
The Argentine coolly dispatched a spot-kick just before half-time, drilling beyond the reach of Jordi Masip after Gerard Pique was bundled to the ground by Valladolid midfielder Michel.
Masip brilliantly tipped over a Messi volley soon after the interval and
Luis Suarez wasted a huge opportunity to double the lead shortly after replacing Kevin-Prince Boateng with an hour gone.
Messi found himself booked for dissent after an apparent foul on him went unpunished, and he then blew the chance to kill off Valladolid when Masip kept out his second penalty of the night — awarded following a trip on Philippe Coutinho.
The excellent Masip alertly gathered Messi’s follow-up header and again
denied Suarez late on as Barca pulled seven points clear of Atletico ahead of
their trip to Lyon in the Champions League last 16.
“We haven’t played well. The truth is it wasn’t a good match today. The
only good thing is the victory,” Pique, who made his 300th appearance in La
Liga told Movistar.
“Getting back on track with three points is important after two draws in
the league. But we definitely have to improve. We have to be better on
Tuesday otherwise we’ll have a tough time.”