Messi scores 2 as Barca beat Valencia 3-2, Iniesta injured

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi scored a second goal with a stoppage-time penalty to give Barcelona a 3-2 league victory at Valencia on Saturday that was overshadowed by a serious knee injury to Andres Iniesta.

Messi opened the scoring and had the last word of the wild match when he beat Diego Alves with a well-taken spot kick that slid just between the diving goalkeeper and the post.

The hotly contested game was marred both by Enzo Perez's tackle that sent Iniesta off on a stretcher and a fan throwing a water bottle at Barcelona's players while they celebrated Messi's winner.

The win lifted the defending champions to the top of the Spanish league. Barcelona is one point ahead of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid before they both play their matches on Sunday.

Barcelona's victory was marred by the injury to its key playmaker.

Iniesta clutched his right knee and called out for help from the team doctors in Barcelona's dugout when he was cut down by Perez in the 12th minute.

The Spain midfielder's knee appeared to buckle when he was hit by Perez's aggressive tackle. He was clearly in pain and held a hand over his face when he was put on the stretcher and carried off. Ivan Rakitic replaced him.

The club issued a medical report saying Iniesta had injured a ligament and part of his right knee. The 32-year-old World Cup winner will undergo further tests when he returns to Barcelona.

"We will miss him a lot and hope he is back with us as soon as possible," Barcelona's Sergio Busquets said.

Valencia rallied to take the lead on goals by Munir El Haddadi and Rodrigo Moreno early in the second half before Luis Suarez scored to make it 2-2.

Messi then snatched the win from the penalty spot with 90 minutes complete after he passed the ball to Suarez, who was fouled by Aymen Abdennour in the box.

Messi's goals took his league-leading tally to eight. They were his fifth and sixth goals in three matches since returning from a three-week hiatus while recovering from a right groin strain. He scored a hat trick to lead a 4-0 victory over Manchester City on Wednesday in the Champions League.