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La Liga: Barcelona, Atleti win big; Messi’s free-kick magic

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 08: Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and FC Barcelona at RCDE Stadium on December 8, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Chelsea hand Man City a first loss | Liverpool win to go top of PL ]

Espanyol 0-4 Barcelona

Barcelona’s lead in the title race grew from one point to three after Lionel Messi and Co., thrashed local rivals Espanyol in the Catalan derby on Saturday — with partial thanks to second-place Sevilla’s 1-1 draw with Valencia.

Messi scored the first and fourth goals — each a stunning free kick brilliantly stroked into corners opposite one another in either half of the game. The latter wasn’t to be scoffed at, but the former was dropped so perfectly — down to the millimeter — it warrants re-watch after re-watch.

Surprisingly enough, it was the first time Messi has scored two free-kick goals in the same league game. Ousmane Dembele (assisted by Messi) and Luis Suarez chipped in with a goal each during the first half.

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Alaves

Atleti were the other key beneficiaries of Sevilla’s slip-up, as Diego Simeone’s side took their opportunity to move level on points for second place.

Nikola Kalinic opened the scoring in the 25th minute, bundling home the ball from Santiago Aris’ cross, followed by Antoine Griezmann (82nd) and Rodrigo (87th) who put the game to bed not long before full-time.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Valencia 1-1 Sevilla
Villarreal 2-3 Celta Vigo

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Eibar vs. Levante — 6 a.m. ET
Huesca vs. Real Madrid — 10:15 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad vs. Real Valladolid — 12:30 p.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Rayo Vallecano — 2:45 p.m. ET

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