jamuna sports desk: Lionel Messi kept Barcelona's title hopes alive with two goals and an assist to see off Real Sociedad 3-2 as Spain's top two edged five-goal thrillers ahead of nexttwo-edgeds El Clasico.
Earlier on Saturday, Isco struck at the death to keep Real Madrid three points clear and with a game in hand at the top of the table after twice coming from behind to beat Sporting Gijon 3-2.
Barcelona will need Messi on this form if they are to produce another miracle Champions League fightback against Juventus on Wednesday from a 3-0 first leg defeat suffered in midweek.
"I am more than happy with the performance of the players and their ability to manage the frustration after what we experienced in the Champions League this week," Barca boss Luis Enrique told Spanish TV station Movistar.
The Argentine is now just two off his 500th Barca goal as he smashed home an effort from 25 yards to open the scoring.
Messi then took his tally to 45 goals in 44 games this season with a far less spectacular finish as he bundled home from close range after Geronimo Rulli had saved from Luis Suarez.
However, Barca passed up the chance to enjoy a comfortable evening in a three-goal spell in as many minutes just before half-time.
Firstly, Samuel Umtiti turned Inigo Martinez's driven effort into his own net.
Paco Alcacer, deputising for the suspended Neymar, briefly restored Barca's two-goal lead with a composed finish from Messi's pass. Yet, Sociedad scored again almost straight from kick-off as Xabi Prieto cushioned William Jose's cross into the bottom corner.