La Liga round-up: Lionel Messi keeps Barcelona on course for La Liga defence
By Nick Howson
Last Updated: 30/03/19 11:12pm
Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona reeled off a sixth straight La Liga win in a row against local rivals Espanyol to remain on course to retain their title.
The Argentinian marksman opened the scoring with a deft free-kick 20 minutes from time.
Messi then took his tally for the season to 31 after finishing off a flowing counter-attack to complete the 2-0 win which keeps their opponents in 14th.
Second-placed Atletico Madrid restored their grip on second place as they eased to a 4-0 win away to fifth-placed Alaves.
Bouncing back from their defeat in Bilbao last time out, Atletico took just four minutes to grab the lead through Saul Niguez, before Diego Costa struck a superb second eight minutes later.
Second-half goals from Alvaro Morata and Thomas Partey confirmed Atletico's impressive return to form.
At the bottom, a fit-again Iago Aspas struck twice as Celta Vigo gave their survival hopes a huge boost with a comeback win over relegation rivals Villarreal.
Karl Ekambi scored the opener and laid on the second for Alfonso to put the Europa League quarter-finalists on course for a third win in a row at half-time.
But former Liverpool forward Aspas halved the deficit five minutes after the break, before Maxi Gomez drew the home side level.
In the 86th minute, Fran Escriba was handed his first win as Celta boss when Brais Mendez was fouled in the box, allowing Aspas to step up to convert.
Eighteenth place Celta are just a point behind Villarreal and Vallodolid heading into the final two months of the campaign.
Getafe saw their Champions League prospects dealt a blow after they lost 2-0 at home to Leganes.
Michael Santos handed the visitors the lead four minutes after the break before Juanfran completed Los Pepineros' first win in three.