Two weeks after knocking off Real Madrid, Granada positioned themselves for an even bigger upset when they took a 26th minute lead today on visiting Barcelona. But after taking halftime to think it over, Lionel Messi, who came into Saturday’s match with 299 career all-competition goals, decided Barça wasn’t going to replicate their rivals’ error. Thanks to his second half double, Messi brought Barcelona back for a 2-1 victory.
The double raises Messi’s season total to 48 goals in 36 games. His 37 league tallies are 13 more than second-best Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s also scored 13 times (in 11 games) since the turn of the calendar.
Messi’s first came with Granada packed deep into their own end just after halftime. Cesc Fabregas let loose from 23 yards, and when Granada goalkeeper Toño blocked the shot back in front of goal. With Messi having peeled away from the defense after Fabregas released the shot, he was in perfect position for the put back:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOEA7SLTOvo]
Messi’s second could have been a response to Gareth Bale’s mid-week golazo, with a direct kick from the middle of the field giving the Barcelona star his choice for posts from just over 24 yards out. He chose left:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAgPkgcLbHo]
The win leaves Barcelona 15 points up on Atlético Madrid, who play at Real Valladolid tomorrow. They have a +53 goal difference and is on pace for 126 goals and a record 103 points.
They also take on Mario Balotelli and Milan on Wednesday in UEFA Champions League.