Spanish Liga - Messi scores 300th Barca goal before superb free-kick winner

La Liga, Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes - Granada 1 (Ighalo 26) Barcelona 2 (Messi 50, 73)

Lionel Messi scored his 300th and 301st goals for Barcelona as the Blaugrana came from behind to beat Granada 2-1 in La Liga at the Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes.

Odion Ighalo gave the hosts the lead against the run of play but Barca stayed patient and had their reward in the second half.

Soon after the break Toño was unable to hold a fizzing Cesc Fabregas shot and Messi pounced for his landmark goal before the maestro grabbed his first on the road to 400 - and the winning goal - with a superb bending free-kick 17 minutes from time.

The win puts Barca 15 points clear of Atletico and 19 ahead of Real - both of whom play on Sunday.

In the absence of Xavi, Messi put on a passing masterclass which produced no return in the opening 45 minutes for Barca. The first of many balls slipped through to Alexis Sanchez, Adriano, Dani Alves and Thiago found Alexis on four minutes, but the out-of-form Chilean's heavy first touch saw the ball run through to Toño.

Granada had the first shot on target three minutes later when Nolito, on loan from Benfica - and who made two appearances for Barca after featuring for the B team - pulled away to volley for goal from 12 yards, forcing a save out of Victor Valdes.

It was a rare attack from Granada, who escaped a penalty claim when Fabregas was sent crashing to the turf by Gabriel Torje in the 21st minute. Replays from behind the incident showed that he bumped into the Spain star with some force.

Five minutes later Barca were behind. Carlos Aranda crossed to the far post from the right and the ball was cushioned across the six-yard box by Nolito for Ighalo to finish from two yards.

Adriano sent a fulminating drive just wide of the far top corner from the left soon after, then Barca felt aggrieved when Guilherme Siqueira was only booked when tangling with Pedro as the nippy winger bore down on goal. He was the last man.

Toño blocked brilliantly at the near post as Messi looked to finish a superb cushioned Thiago ball - but the midfielder was left red-faced on the stroke of half-time when playing a quick free-kick across the face of his own box straight to Aranda, who tested Valdes with a decent strike.

It took Barca five second-half minutes to equalise. Fabregas's low shot from 25 yards was destined for the bottom corner and it was all Toño could do to block; Messi was alert to finish the rebound from 10 yards out.

Alexis looked sluggish on the ball throughout. Despite scoring his first goal of the Liga season last weekend, the opener in a 6-1 thrashing of Getafe, he seemed to be lacking in confidence: the last straw came when Fabregas, streaking through midfield on the break, fed him on the left and he took one touch too many with Pedro utterly alone in the middle.

Cristian Tello came on for him - Barca's second change after Jordi Alba replaced the injured Adriano in the first half - and his pace was a danger from the right with Granada tiring and retreating deeper into their half.

Pedro came within millimetres of putting Barca in front when crashing off the foot and inside of the post from 30 yards.

The expected goal arrived from the boot of four-times Ballon d'Or winner Messi - and his 301st for the Catalan club was one to behold, curving an unstoppable free-kick inside Toño's post from a central position 30 yards out.

Tello should have added to the score when played in by Iniesta - who had replaced Pedro as Messi lined up the free-kick - firing a rising effort just over with space on the right.

And Jordi Roura's men - coach Tito Vilanova is still undergoing cancer surgery in New York - almost lived to regret that miss when Iñigo Lopez could only put a free header straight at Valdes then in injury time substitute Yacine Brahimi played a superb one-two before shooting into the side-netting with men in the middle. Valdes made the save but a goal-kick was awarded.

Messi was denied a hat-trick by a Toño reaction save after receiving the ball into feet from Alves and turning to shoot with his right foot; and with the last kick of the game Iniesta finished into the side-netting on the left following a superb team move across the pitch.

Another match, another brace and another milestone for Messi.