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Lionel Messi brace sees Barcelona beat Sporting Gijon and go six clear

Sporting GijónSporting Gijón
BarcelonaBarcelona
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3
FT
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Lionel Messi passed 300 Primera Division goals as Barcelona extended their lead at the top to six points with a 3-1 victory over Sporting Gijon.

It took Messi just 25 minutes to reach the landmark, and six minutes later he made it 301, with Luis Suarez putting a missed penalty behind him to add the third in the 67th minute.

Gijon had briefly levelled matters through Carlos Castro and gave a good account of themselves, with goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar producing several good saves, including from Suarez's spot-kick.

Barca boss Luis Enrique grew up as a Sporting fan and said before the match that if their record 30-match unbeaten run was to end, he would want it to do so at El Molinon.

But that never looked likely to happen, and Cuellar produced his first fine save in the 21st minute to deny Suarez after he had been played through by Neymar.

Four minutes later Cuellar was beaten as Messi dropped his shoulder and cut in from the right before finding the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Sporting had looked dangerous on the break and it took them only two minutes to draw level, Alex Menendez playing a precision ball across the box for Castro to slide in and convert.

But four minutes later Messi struck again, finishing high into the net after an intelligent cutback from Suarez.

It was nearly three almost immediately but Cuellar denied Messi a hat trick and then earned some luck as Neymar's curled follow-up hit the far post.

Cuellar blotted his copybook by bringing down Suarez in the 61st minute to concede a penalty but made amends with a fine save.

After their headline-grabbing penalty at the weekend, when Messi passed for Suarez to score, Barca took the conventional route this time only to be denied.

Suarez did not have to wait long for a goal, though, and this time it was all his own work as he curled home a sublime finish in the 67th minute.

Cuellar prevented a fourth with another save from Neymar but the visitors had done more than enough to move six points ahead of Atletico Madrid.

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