Messi closes year with 50 goals as Barcelona routs Alavés

MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi closed the year with a total of 50 goals for club and country for the sixth straight time, helping Barcelona stay in position to keep the Spanish league lead entering the holiday break.

Luis Suárez, Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal also scored as Barcelona comfortably defeated Alavés 4-1 on Saturday to open a three-point lead over second-place Real Madrid, which hosts Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Barcelona holds a five-goal advantage over Madrid in the tiebreaker between the teams.

Barcelona and Madrid drew 0-0 in the first “clásico” of the season on Wednesday in a game postponed from October because of a separatist rally in the Catalan capital.

“We played only a few
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