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Messi strikes again as Barcelona exit rut

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12:54 CET+01:00
Barcelona assistant manager Jordi Roura was delighted finally to keep a clean sheet as the Catalans extended their lead at the top of the table to 14 points with a 2-0 win over Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday night.

With a huge game to come against AC Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday, Roura named a much-changed side with Lionel Messi only starting on the bench.

However, after Alexis Sanchez had given Barca a deserved half-time lead, Messi came on and sealed the three points with a lovely finish two minutes from time to extend his scoring streak in the league to 17 matches.

It was ending an unwanted streak that Roura was most pleased with though as Barça didn't concede for the first time in 14 games stretching back to early January.

"Every competition is different and Tuesday will be a different story, but I have always said that the best way to prepare for a game is to win the previous one," he told reporters.

"We were very intense and Depor hardly had a chance at goal. We managed to keep a clean sheet which was very important and we are very happy because we have picked up three more points and maintained our advantage at the top."

Of the fringe players who started Alexis and Thiago were the two who could potentially have played their way into the side on Tuesday as David Villa had an off night in front of goal and Cesc Fabregas was again very ineffective.

Indeed sections of the home fans booed the former Arsenal skipper as he was replaced by Sergio Busquets in the second-half, but Roura insists he has no doubts in the Spanish international's quality.

"The fans have the right to say what they want and every player will have his good and bad moments in the season, but we are delighted with Cesc and he is a player of undoubted quality.

"The line-up for Tuesday has not yet been decided.

"Alexis has been an important player for us and for Tuesday he is another option that we have available.

"He has scored and set-up a goal, but it is also his movement up front and the way he pressures defenders that helps us."

Depor meanwhile remain rooted to the foot of the table and it was easy to see why as they failed to create even one clear-cut opening against a makeshift Barça side.

The Galicians are eight points off safety and having won only three games so far this season, manager Fernando Vazquez believes they have to win seven of their remaining 11 to survive.

"We know just how difficult it is going to be," he said.

"We need to win at least seven games of the 11 that are left, but whilst it is mathematically possible to save ourselves, we will fight to make it happen."

Deportivo's chances of survival weren't helped by a second consecutive win for Mallorca as two goals from Alejandro Alfaro gave them a 2-1 victory over Sevilla.

Alvaro Negredo had briefly levelled for Sevilla in the second-half but Alfaro's winner 24 minutes from time moves Gregorio Manzano's men to within a point of safety.

Malaga, who are also in Champions League action in midweek as they try to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Porto, remain in fourth after a 1-1 draw away to Valladolid, whilst Rayo Vallecano kept up their hopes of qualifying for Europe with a 2-0 win over Espanyol.

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