Messi’s 50th dazzler of 2019 crowns Barca blitz on Alaves

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (right) drives the ball during the match between Barcelona and Alaves at Camp Nou. (AP pic)

BARCELONA: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were all on target in a convincing 4-1 home win over Alaves on Saturday which ensured they will finish 2019 top of La Liga.

Griezmann put Barca ahead in the 14th minute with a wonderful first-time strike into the bottom corner from a Suarez cut-back and Arturo Vidal also knocked home a pass from the Uruguayan to round off a dominant first-half display.

Alaves midfielder Pere Pons pulled a goal back in the 56th minute with a diving header which briefly caused panic in the home side who were fortunate not to concede an equaliser.

But Messi eased their nerves with a magnificent curling strike from outside the box to restore Barca’s two-goal cushion in the 69th and Suarez finally got on the scoresheet by converting from the penalty spot in the 75th.

Barca lead the standings on 39 points from 18 games, three clear of second-placed Real Madrid who host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Sevilla are third on 34 after winning 2-0 at Real Mallorca.