FC Barcelona fans held their breaths in unison while waiting for Lionel Messi to get up from the ground after he was felled by a nasty challenge during last night's 2-1 victory over Villarreal.

Messi was tackled by Villarreal's Manu Trigueros, who was subsequently shown a straight red card. Trigueros jumped in for the tackle and raked his studs along Messi's leg in the process. Messi fell and proceeded to clutch his leg as the referee was brandishing the card. The Argentine eventually got up and was able to complete the match without further issues.

Messi was lucky to escape serious injury, and Barcelona fans are relieved to have their captain available for the remaining crucial matches. After Atletico Madrid dropped points last night, Barcelona is in a good position to take the lead in the La Liga table on Thursday when they play their match in hand.

Back to Sunday night's action, it was Antoine Griezmann and not Messi who scored a brace in the first-half to give the Blaugrana the 2-1 victory over Villarreal. The hosts did take the early lead courtesy of Samu Chukwueze, but Barcelona quickly found the equaliser and the winning goal all within the opening half.

Trigueros was sent off in the middle of the second half but Barcelona was no longer able to extend their lead. Nevertheless, the narrow victory gave them the three points that they needed.

The Catalan giants now sit level on 71 points with Real Madrid, who dropped two points on Saturday. Both teams are now just two points adrift of leaders Atletico, with Barcelona holding a game in hand.

Antoine Griezmann will be pleased with himself after scoring both goals on the night. He had a slow start with Barcelona after coming in from Atletico Madrid, but he appears to have finally found his place in the team alongside Messi.

Messi and de Jong
Lionel Messi with Frenkie de Jong AFP / Marco BERTORELLO