Alaves 0-2 FC Barcelona
Lionel Messi shrugged off the frustration of missing a penalty to reach another remarkable career landmark as FC Barcelona eased to a 2-0 victory at Alaves.
Messi, who hit the woodwork three times in the 2-0 win over Real Betis on the opening day of the season, saw his first-half spot-kick superbly saved by Fernando Pacheco after Gerard Pique had been pulled down in the penalty area.
But the 30-year-old was not be denied the 350th LaLiga goal of his career and added the 351st for good measure as the visitors ran out comfortable winners.
After the home side won a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the area in the opening seconds, Barcelona quickly began to dominate possession and Gerard Deulofeu was the first to test Pacheco with a low shot on target after five minutes.
Pacheco was destined for a busy evening and he saved comfortably from Messi before the home side threatened to take the lead against the run of play.
Alfonso Pedraza made a surging run down the left and fired in a brilliant low cross which Ruben Sobrino somehow bundled wide at the far post, with the linesman flagging for offside to spare Sobrino’s blushes.
At the other end it was Andres Iniesta’s turn to bring a smart save from Pacheco, who then easily held a weak, first-time effort from Messi as the visitors cranked up the pressure.
Despite struggling to get out of their own half for long periods, Alaves could still have broken the deadlock on the half hour when Sobrino left Pique trailing in his wake to bear down on goal, only to see his shot saved by the feet of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who had raced off his line to narrow the angle.
Moments later Samuel Umtiti was booked for an off-the-ball clash with Subrino, but Ibai Gomez could only fire the resulting free-kick straight into the Barcelona wall.
The visitors were gifted the chance to open the scoring after 38 minutes when Rodrigo Ely was rightly penalised for pulling back Pique in the area, but Messi’s well-struck penalty was brilliantly saved by Pacheco.
Alaves almost made the most of their goalkeeper’s performance at the start of the second half when Manu Garcia was unable to connect with Gomez’s low cross, but their resistance was finally broken 10 minutes after the interval.
And it took a deflection to finally get the better of the home goalkeeper, Messi reacting quickest to gather Jordi Alba’s cross and firing a left-footed shot which flicked off Alexis Ruano and beat Pacheco at his near post.
Alaves then gifted Barcelona a second goal when Pedraza and Alexis failed to clear the ball on the edge of their area and allowed substitute Paco Alcacer to head into the path of Messi, who gave Pacheco no chance with a sweetly-struck volley into the bottom corner.
Oscar Romero made sure Ter Stegen was still awake with a 68th-minute free-kick from long range, but Barcelona still looked the more likely scorers and Messi was denied a hat-trick by the crossbar after beating Pacheco from the edge of the area.
The Catalans sit top of the La Liga table heading into the international break. They return to action on the 9th of September when they face cross city rivals Espanyol. Next up forAlaves is a tricky trip to Celta Vigo on September 10th