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Messi goes past 300 as Barcelona pull clear

Lionel Messi scored twice to take his career league tally to 301 goals as Barcelona beat Sporting Gijón 3-1 to move six points clear at the top of the Spanish Liga.

Lionel Messi celebrates one of his two goals on Wednesday
Lionel Messi celebrates one of his two goals on Wednesday ©AFP/Getty Images

Barcelona are six points clear at the Spanish Liga summit following a 3-1 win at struggling Sporting Gijón.

Barça, who swept aside Celta Vigo in sensational fashion on Sunday, were in action due to the original fixture, scheduled for December, clashing with their FIFA Club World Cup assignment in Japan.

Lionel Messi put Barcelona in front from the edge of the area after 25 minutes, his 300th league goal in just 334 appearances. His first had come more than a decade ago, in a 2-0 defeat of Albacete on 1 May 2005.

Though Castro soon levelled for the hosts, Messi struck No301 just after the half-hour, finishing emphatically following fine work by Luis Suárez. The Liga's leading scorer this season, Suárez missed a second-half penalty but made amends soon after, registering his 24th league strike to rubber-stamp the points.

Luis Enrique's side, unbeaten in a club-record 31 games in all competitions, take on Arsenal in north London in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie next Tuesday.