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Messi passes 50-goal mark as Barcelona keep pressure on Real MAdrid

Barcelona’s formidable front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all scored as the champions beat Villarreal 4-1 on Saturday to stay top of La Liga and keep the pressure on title rivals Real Madrid.

Neymar was in sensational form in his second game back from suspension and nudged Barcelona ahead in the 21st minute after pouncing on a deflected pass from Messi.

Cedric Bakambu fired Villarreal level in the 32nd after beating the offside trap to latch on to a clever through ball from Roberto Soldado.

Barca were temporarily punctured by the leveller but a marvellous piece of skill from Messi allowed them to restore their lead on the stroke of halftime with a shot from the Argentine which flew beyond Andres Fernandez with the help of a deflection.

Suarez powered the ball under the Villarreal goalkeeper in the 69th to score his third goal in two games and the 100th for the feted front three this campaign, while Messi grabbed the fourth with a deft chip from the penalty spot in the 82nd.

Messi’s penalty inflicted the heaviest league defeat of the season on Villarreal, who have the second-best defence in La Liga.

“We played very well with and without the ball and scoring four goals against this Villarreal side shows how well we did. Our pressure was key and we produced a complete performance against a great side,” Barca coach Luis Enrique told reporters.