Messi, Neymar lead Barca past Celta, Valdes hurt

JOSEPH WILSON Associated Press Published:

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Lionel Messi and Neymar helped Barcelona provisionally take the lead of the Spanish league on Wednesday, but the 3-0 win over Celta Vigo came at the cost of goalkeeper Victor Valdes being taken off with a leg injury.

Valdes' right knee buckled after a routine save in the 22nd minute, and he had to be shuttled off the Camp Nou pitch with his gloved hands covering his face. The club says Valdes was taken to hospital for tests to determine the severity of the injury.

Neymar scored twice from passes by Alexis Sanchez. The Brazil striker opened the scoring in the sixth minute and struck again in the 67th after Messi recorded his 22nd league goal of the season on the half-hour mark.

The win came four days after Barcelona's thrilling 4-3 win at Madrid and lifted it two points ahead of its fierce rivals and Atletico Madrid, who both play later.

Celta, coached by former Barcelona player and B-team manager Luis Enrique, never mounted a challenge and its high defensive line proved easy pickings for the Catalan side's passing game.

Messi got things rolling when he dribbled at Celta's defense and spotted Alexis's run down the right edge of the area, where he received Messi's pass and squared for Neymar to tap home.

After Jose Pinto went on to replace the injured Valdes, Messi took Andres Iniesta's pass, rounded goalie Yoel Rodriguez and fired the ball inside the upright.

The 38-year-old Pinto was tested in the 52nd and was up to the challenge when he made back-to-back reflex saves to turn away Augusto Fernandez's powerful strike and Santi Mina's follow-up attempt. He went on to make two more noteworthy saves.

Neymar hit a second time from a long pass by Alexis when he managed to slot the ball through two defenders and beyond Rodriguez.

Also, Rayo Vallecano beat Osasuna 1-0 thanks to Joaquin Lavirrey's 90th-minute penalty for its fourth win in five rounds to edge away from the relegation zone.