Lionel Messi produced an assist on his return to action as Barcelona won 1-0 at LaLiga basement boys Huesca.
Messi, back in the team after sitting out Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Eibar due to an ankle injury, teed up Frenkie De Jong with a fine pass in the 27th minute at Estadio El Alcoraz.
Barca were unable to add to that goal despite numerous attempts, including two Messi efforts that were well saved by Huesca goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez, while the hosts went close through on-loan Wolves forward Rafa Mir.
The result sees Ronald Koeman’s men move up a place to fifth – they are 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand over them and won 2-1 at Alaves earlier on Sunday. Huesca are four points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.
Messi came into the side for his 750th Barcelona appearance, and 500th in LaLiga, among four changes made by Koeman from the laboured draw with Eibar.
Pedri brought a save out of Fernandez in the seventh minute, and further pressure from the visitors saw Messi, Pedri and Jordi Alba send efforts off-target.
Messi then produced a delightful delivery into the box to pick out De Jong and the Holland midfielder finished from close range.
🏆 10 titles.⚽️ 451 goals.
🌟 5⃣0⃣0⃣ 𝗠𝗔𝗧𝗖𝗛𝗘𝗦 🌟
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) January 3, 2021
Towards the end of the first half Messi twice tried his luck on goal from free-kicks, seeing the first attempt well tipped over by Fernandez and the second go too high.
Messi then shot wide on the hour mark after collecting a Martin Braithwaite pass.
Huesca gave Barca a scare moments later as Mir was denied by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, before Messi saw his low strike kept out by the legs of Fernandez.
Ter Stegen subsequently dealt with a shot from Javier Ontiveros, and substitutes Shinji Okazaki and Juan Carlos Real also had attempts saved by the German late on as the home side’s push for an equaliser proved in vain.