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Barcelona coped with the absence of Lionel Messi defeating Elche

Frenkie de Jong and Riqui Puig hit the back of the net as Barcelona took third position in La Liga with a secure 2-0 away victory over Elche.

Lionel Messi missed out on the Catalans when he served the second of a two-match ban for a red card, but Barca coped without their top scorer and leader in the Spanish Supercopa defeat to the Athletic Club.

Through most of the first half, Elche held their own, then buckled when Barca raised the pressure, with de Jong’s opportunistic finishing on the goal line after Diego Gonzalez sending a Martin Braithwaite cross goalward.

Denying Emiliano Rigoni after watching the Elche runner sprint through on goal after an error by Oscar Mingueza, Marc-Andre ter Stegen came to Barcelona’s rescue in the second half. The German goalkeeper saved with an outstretched knee.

Barcelona ensured the three points late on as Riqui Puig came off the bench to send home a de Jong cross to the back post after an impressive surging run by the Dutchman into the box.

The outcome raises Barcelona to third in La Liga over Sevilla, three points behind Real Madrid rivals and seven points off the pace set by Atletico Madrid champions, who keep two games in-hand.

Elche – Barcelona 0-2

Goals: De Jong (39), Puig (89)

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Barcelona coped with the absence of Lionel Messi defeating Elche

Osasuna – Granada 3-1

Goals: Budimir (27, 39), Suarez(50), Moncayola(86)

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