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Aug 26, 2012

Lionel Messi scores 2 in Barcelona's rally

Lionel Messi scored twice in the last 15 minutes as Barcelona won 2-1, surviving a scare against 10-man Osasuna to continue its winning start to the new season.

Osasuna beat Barcelona 3-2 in last season's corresponding fixture and the Catalan giants looked in danger of suffering another upset when Joseba Llorente volleyed the home side in front in the 17th minute Sunday.

Striker Nino then had a great chance to double Osasuna's lead in the 70th minute, but he hit the post when clean through, and 10 minutes later Barca were ahead and on their way to three points.

Messi, as has often been the case, was the spark behind the comeback, and he drew the teams level in the 75th minute when he stabbed home Alexis Sanchez's pass to finish off a move he himself had started with a trademark darting run.

Osasuna was aggrieved that goal was allowed to stand after Alexis had appeared to be offside when he received the ball earlier in the move, and the home side's veteran midfielder Patxi Punal was handed his marching orders for taking his protests too far.

Barca quickly made the most of their man advantage as, in the 80th minute, summer signing Jordi Alba picked out Messi near the edge of the area and the Argentina superstar rolled a low shot into the far corner for the match-winner.

The victory sees Barca move onto six points after two games in La Liga, while it also won the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa against Real Madrid on Thursday.

A trip to the Estadio Reyno de Navarra would not have been Barca's first-choice destination following its exertions against Madrid, and Osasuna was certainly in no mood to give their illustrious visitors an easy night with Alvaro Cejudo forcing Victor Valdes into a finger-tip save inside the opening 30 seconds.

Barca soon settled, though, and Alexis tested Andres Fernandez before Cristian Tello struck the woodwork in the 15th minute.

It was Osasuna who took the lead, however, as Llorente got on the end of Roland Lamah's deep cross to fire a volley into the roof of the net.

Both sides spurned chances to get on the scoresheet in the next hour, but the most decisive was almost certainly Nino's miss.

He robbed Sergio Busquets of possession 30 yards out before racing to the edge of the box but, although his shot beat Valdes, it hit the outside of the post and went wide.

Barca coach Tito Vilanova was sent to the stands immediately after that, but he would have been much happier five minutes later when his side drew level as Messi turned in a clever pass by Alexis.

The subsequent dismissal of Punal gave Barca a further lift and Messi, who also scored a brace in last weekend's 5-1 win over Real Sociedad and another in the 3-2 win over Madrid, ensured the points would be heading back to the Nou Camp when he slotted in Alba's ball across the area.

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