Rapid fire Barca best Villarreal to keep pace with Real

Two goals in three minutes helped the Catalan side to a 3-2 win.

Barcelona's Neymar and Lionel Messi celebrate.
Barcelona's Neymar and Lionel Messi celebrate.

BARCELONA TWICE CAME from behind to defeat Villarreal 3-2 and move back to within one point of Real Madrid in the race for the La Liga title.

Quickfire goals from Rafinha and Lionel Messi at the start of the second half earned the Catalan giants victory in an entertaining game after Barca were forced to fight back strongly to seal all three points and end Villarreal’s 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

It looked as though they might extend that sequence when on-loan Real Madrid man Denis Cheryshev put Villarreal ahead in the 30th minute, but Neymar brought the hosts level on the stroke of half-time.

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Luciano Vietto restored Villarreal’s lead soon after the break, but goals three minutes apart from Rafinha and Messi put Barca in control.

Rafinha’s effort was a scrappy affair, but Messi’s – his 22nd goal in La Liga this season – was spectacular as he caressed the ball into the net from the edge of the box.

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The win moves Luis Enrique’s side back to within one point of fierce rivals Real Madrid at the Liga summit, after Carlo Ancelotti’s side thumped Real Sociedad 4-1 on Saturday.

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