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Last Updated Sunday September 24 2017 12:15 PM IST

Barcelona keep pressure on Madrid with thrilling Real Sociedad win

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Barcelona keep pressure on Madrid with thrilling Real Sociedad win Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores a goal against Real Sociedad's Yuri Berchiche in action. Reuters/Albert Gea

Barcelona: Lionel Messi's double strike helped Barcelona scrape a 3-2 victory over Real Sociedad on Saturday to keep up the pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid.

The Argentine scored twice and set up a third for Paco Alcacer as Barcelona saw off their Basque opponents, who pressed them until the end of a nervy encounter.

After Real Madrid's last-gasp victory over Sporting Gijon earlier in the day the Catalans' win takes them three points behind Los Blancos, having played one match more, ahead of next Sunday's Clasico.

Also read: Sensational Isco spares Real Madrid's blushes against Sporting

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique was relieved to put a difficult week behind him, after last weekend's 2-0 loss to Malaga and Tuesday's bruising 3-0 reverse against Juventus in the Champions League.

Despite their recent jitters, he is confident that his side can do well in the reverse leg against the Italians and against Madrid in next weekend's crucial title showdown if they perform to their very best.

"We have to be marvelous and perfect," he said. "The players need confidence to be at their best and that's what I'm trying to do as the coach.

"It was a special week because of what happened before (defeats by Malaga and Juventus). We won a game against a difficult opponent. I’m more than happy with the performance. We deserved to win even though it was tricky."

Messi put Barcelona ahead with a low drive and doubled the lead with a tap-in, but Sociedad hit back when Inigo Martinez’s shot bounced off Samuel Umtiti into the Barcelona net.

Alcacer extended the Catalans’ advantage before Xabi Prieto reduced the deficit to 3-2 just before halftime, while the second half stayed goalless despite pressure from the visitors.

Atletico Madrid missed two late penalties but still thrashed bottom of the table Osasuna 3-0 at home with a brace from Yannick Carrasco to stay third in the table.

In the battle to avoid the drop, Deportivo La Coruna beat Malaga 2-0 to move nine points clear of the relegation zone, with Sporting Gijon still 18th, on 22 points.

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