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Big 2 win in Spain following Messi and Ronaldo late shows

La Liga’s title contenders left it late to secure victory last night, with two hard-fought wins.

Messi scored twice for Barca last night.
Messi scored twice for Barca last night.

BARCELONA REMAIN FOUR points adrift of La Liga leaders Real Madrid after both recorded hard-fought wins on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s Barca had a controversial penalty to thank as they battled to a 2-1 win at Levante to keep touch with Real Madrid ahead of next week’s El Clasico.

Jose Barkero gave the home team a surprise lead with a penalty before Lionel Messi levelled with half an hour to go.

The Argentine stepped up to score a spot-kick on 72 minutes to bring his league tally this campaign to 41 goals, joining Cristiano Ronaldo in breaking the Portugal star’s La Liga record of 40 last season.

Guardiola’s side were forced to come from behind, with the hosts awarded a penalty against the run of play in the 22nd minute.

Barkero’s corner was poorly cleared by Victor Valdes with Juanfran’s follow-up striking the hand of Sergio Busquets.

Barkero calmly stepped up, sending Valdes the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Levante had their chances to double the advantage before Barcelona were rewarded for lifting the tempo just after the hour-mark.

Messi played a clever one-two with Alexis Sanchez before curling his effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

On 71 minutes, Guardiola’s men were awarded a controversial penalty after Isaac Cuenca and Pedro Botelho came together in the area.

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Cuenca appeared to bring down Botelho after the initial contact, but the assistant referee flagged for a spot-kick.

Messi stepped up and put his penalty into the top corner to give the visitors an important win.

Ronaldo netted as Real Madrid came from behind to register a 3-1 victory against relegation-threatened Sporting Gijon at Santiago Bernabeu.

Jose Mourinho’s men found themselves behind when Sergio Ramos handled in the penalty area, allowing Miguel de las Cuevas to fire the visitors ahead from the spot.

Real responded seven minutes later when Ramos, making amends for his earlier error, found Gonzalo Higuain with a superb cross for the Argentine striker to nod home.

Ronaldo completed the turnaround in the 73rd minute before Karim Benzema scored the third late on.

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