Messi re­turns in top scor­ing form

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORT -

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing dur­ing the Span­ish La Liga match be­tween Barcelona and De­portivo Coruna yes­ter­day. BARCELONA, Spain (AP): THREE TOUCHES of the ball were all Lionel Messi needed to score for Barcelona yes­ter­day, show­ing that he is ready to take on his former coach Pep Guardiola in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Messi dis­played no signs of rust af­ter more than three weeks out of ac­tion with a right groin strain and scored in­side of four min­utes af­ter com­ing on as a sec­ond-half sub­sti­tute. The Ar­gen­tine added to Barcelona’s 4-0 rout of De­portivo La Coruna, fir­ing in a well-placed pass by Ney­mar in the Span­ish league match.

HIGHLY AN­TIC­I­PATED

Barcelona’s con­vinc­ing win comes shortly be­fore former Barcelona coach Guardiola comes home to Camp Nou at the helm of new club Manch­ester City for a highly an­tic­i­pated Euro­pean clash on Wed­nes­day.

“We played a great game. This is the per­fect way to ar­rive at the match against City,” said Barcelona coach Luis En­rique, who calls Guardiola a friend.

It was a night of big wins for all the top teams in La Liga, as Atletico Madrid winger Yan­nick Car­rasco scored a hat­trick to keep Diego Sime­one’s side at the top of the table by de­stroy­ing Granada 7-1.

Real Madrid stayed sec­ond on goal dif­fer­ence to Atletico af­ter out­class­ing Real Betis 6-1 to end their run of four con­sec­u­tive draws. Sevilla ended their long wait for an away vic­tory to re­main a point be­hind in third, and a point ahead of fourth-placed Barcelona.

LEAD­ING SCORER

Rafinha put Barcelona in con­trol with a brace of goals af­ter Ney­mar, who ex­celled as Barcelona’s play­maker, hit the cross­bar early. The Brazil mid­fielder won pos­ses­sion of the ball near De­portivo’s area be­fore open­ing the score in the 21st and added a sec­ond in the 36th.

Luis Suarez tied Atletico Madrid’s An­toine Griez­mann as the league’s lead­ing scorer – with six goals – just be­fore half­time af­ter Ney­mar threaded a pass into the area for the striker.

Messi went on in the 55th to play for the first time since Septem­ber 21. He scored on his third touch of the ball in the 58th.

De­portivo, who had earned draws in their last two league vis­its to Camp Nou, lost Lau­re­ano “Laure” Sanabria to a di­rect red card for el­bow­ing Ney­mar in the face in the 65th.

AP

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