Messi double for Barca

Lionel Messi, starting as a substitute, scored twice to help La Liga leaders Barcelona to a 4-1 victory.

Lionel Messi. Picture: AFP

MADRID - World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, starting as a substitute in a league game for the first time in a year, scored twice in the second half to help La Liga leaders Barcelona to a 4-1 victory at Getafe on Saturday.

The Argentine, given a breather after midweek international duty, came on after an hour and netted from the penalty spot in the 74th and then tapped in a second soon after from Martin Montoya's deflected low cross.

Barca had gone ahead in the 32nd minute when Cesc Fabregas, playing in Messi's 'false nine' role, carved the opening as he surged into the area taking on two defenders, and the ball broke free for Adriano to score.

Barca defender Carles Puyol was substituted after twisting his left knee in a fall early in the second half, and Messi entered on the hour mark in place of Thiago.

Spain striker David Villa came on at the end to seal the victory after Getafe had got one back when Pablo Sarabia's shot was deflected in off Javier Mascherano.

Barca are top with 12 points from four games, eight ahead of champions Real Madrid who were playing at Sevilla in the late game.

Earlier, Argentine striker Javier Saviola inspired Malaga to a 3-1 home win over Levante, while Valencia secured their first La Liga victory this season with a 2-1 triumph over promoted Celta Vigo.

Former Barcelona and Real player Saviola joined Malaga on transfer deadline day two weeks ago and on his first start for the side burst through on to Isco's pass to score in the 27th minute.

Saviola, known as "el conejo" (the rabbit), then laid on Joaquin to score the second after Levante had grabbed an equaliser against the run of play when Michel ran the length of the pitch to score just after halftime.

Malaga lost defender Sergio Sanchez to a red card near the end but Francisco Portillo made sure of the points with a volley in time added on.

Malaga set out on their first Champions League venture when Zenit St Petersburg visit on Tuesday, while Levante debut in the Europa League at home to Helsingborg two days later.

Valencia's new coach Mauricio Pellegrino can breathe a little easier after new recruit Aly Cissokho headed the winner from a freekick at the Mestalla for their first three-point haul of the campaign.

Sofiane Feghouli had given the hosts a fourth-minute lead as he capitalised on some sloppy defending, but Celta quickly pegged Valencia back.

They deservedly levelled when Gustavo Cabral bundled a volley past Valencia keeper Diego Alves.

Valencia improved in the second half after France defender Cissokho struck in the 51st minute, but they will need to play much better if they are to take something from their Champions League opener at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.