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Sub Messi to Barca’s rescue

Argentinian Lionel Messi came off the bench to inspire champions Barcelona to a 3-1 win over a dogged Leganes side yesterday morning (Singapore time), creating one goal and scoring another to keep the Catalans five points clear at the top of La Liga.

Messi was left out of the starting line-up for only the second time this season when fit.

He was called on in the 64th minute with the game poised at 1-1, after Leganes forward Martin Braithwaite had cancelled out Ousmane Dembele's first-half opener with a 57th-minute strike. - REUTERS

Napoli keep pace with Juventus

Napoli scored twice before half-time and hit the woodwork three times in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 2-1 Serie A win over Lazio, who had defender Francesco Acerbi sent off to end his remarkable run of 149 consecutive matches.

The win, their 15th in 20 league games this season, left second-placed Napoli six points behind leaders Juventus, who hosted Chievo earlier this morning, while Lazio dropped out of the Champions League places.

Acerbi had been ever-present since October 2015 in all competitions. - REUTERS

De Bruyne happy to be back

Kevin de Bruyne has described how coming back from successive knee injuries was "mentally hard", but says he is happy with the way he is playing.

He was pivotal to Manchester City's English Premier League title success last season, but has been restricted to just eight league appearances during this campaign due to ligament injuries.

"I'm getting better obviously," said de Bruyne. "It's not the same like it was last year, but that's what you can expect. I've been out since the World Cup and to come back twice is mentally hard." - AFP