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  • May 18, 2021

Exclusive: Lionel Messi scores 50th free-kick goal for Barcelona as they stay in LaLiga title race, while Cristiano Ronaldo gets quickfire double to give under-pressure Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo respite

 Exclusive: Lionel Messi scores 50th free-kick goal for Barcelona as they stay in LaLiga title race, while Cristiano Ronaldo gets quickfire double to give under-pressure Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo respite


Amid all the crazy scenes in Manchester, there was a real sense of normality in football on the continent.

Both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably football’s two greatest players, got on the scoresheet twice as they earned wins for their respective clubs, Barcelona and Juventus.

Not for the first time, Messi and Ronaldo were the stars of the show

Not for the first time, Messi and Ronaldo were the stars of the show

The pair did what they’ve done so many times in their stellar careers as they dragged their sides to victory.

The stakes were high for Messi and co for their LaLiga clash at Valencia as failure to win would see them lose ground on leaders Atletico Madrid.

And it wasn’t looking good for Barca when former Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista gave Valencia the lead. Enough was enough as far as Messi was concerned.

Messi equalised from close range moments after his penalty was saved. Antoine Griezmann then put Barca 2-1 up.

The second goal from Messi was just mesmerising

Getty

The second goal from Messi was just mesmerising

Messi’s contract with Barcelona is due to expire in June

Getty

Messi’s contract with Barcelona is due to expire in June

The Argentine’s second was something you just expect to see from Messi but was magnificent all the same as he curled home a free-kick in off the post approximately 25 yards from goal. The goal, Messi’s 50th from a free-kick for his club, proved decisive as Barca ran out 3-2 winners.

Ronaldo’s Juve had less to play for as their grip at the top of Italian football was loosened earlier on Sunday with Inter Milan being confirmed as Serie A champions.

But Champions League qualification is by no means guaranteed with just two points separating second from fifth place, while sixth-placed Lazio shouldn’t be written off either.

It’s understood manager Andrea Pirlo was under pressure but his star player may have bought him some time with two goals inside the final ten minutes as Juventus ran out 2-1 winners at Udinese.

Ronaldo dug Juve out of a hole

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Ronaldo dug Juve out of a hole

Has he saved Pirlo’s (left) job?

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Has he saved Pirlo’s (left) job?

The home side took an early lead as Nahuel Molina’s drive squirmed through Wojciech Szczesny.

The Old Lady were handed a lifeline as they were given a penalty when Ronaldo’s free-kick was blocked by the arm of Rodrigo de Paul. The Portuguese made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick.

And it was 2-1 Juve six minutes later thanks to the great man again, Ronaldo heading home Adrien Rabiot’s deep cross.





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