BARCELONA — Lionel Messi came off the bench to score a stunning goal that sealed a 2-0 home win for Barcelona over bottom club Deportivo La Coruña on Saturday and stretched their lead at the top of La Liga to 14 points.
With an eye on AC Milan’s Champions League visit tomorrow, Barça left World Player of the Year Messi and five Spanish internationals out of the starting line-up at the Nou Camp.
Chile forward Alexis Sanchez put them in front in the 38th minute when Depor goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia could only palm his powerful downward header into the roof of the net.
Spain’s record scorer David Villa, still not back to his best after breaking his leg at the end of 2011, had earlier squandered a golden chance and made way for Messi with about half an hour left.
The Argentina forward fluffed one effort five minutes from time, but drew gasps from the home crowd in the 88th minute when he exchanged passes with Alexis and dinked a delightful chip over the onrushing Aranzubia into the net.
It was Messi’s 40th goal of the la Liga campaign, his 51st in 41 appearances in all competitions and the 17th straight league match in which he has scored, which Barça said was a world record.
The club said on its website that Messi had overhauled Polish forward Teodor Pewterek, who scored in 16 straight outings for Ruch Chorzow at the end of the 1930s.
Messi has 11 matches in which to beat his La Liga record tally of 50 goals from last season.
Assistant Barça coach Jordi Roura, standing in for Tito Vilanova while he has cancer treatment in New York, said beating Depor was the best way to prepare for the Milan match.
Barça went into the game following three defeats in their last four outings including a 2-0 loss in their Champions League last-16, first leg tie at Milan last month and bitter reverses to arch-rivals Real Madrid in the King’s Cup and La Liga.
Their return to winning ways and a first clean sheet in 14 games puts them on 71 points from 27 of 38 matches.