Messi scores on re­turn in Barca rout, Sevilla top

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Lionel Messi took just three min­utes to score on his re­turn from in­jury as Barcelona en­joyed the per­fect prepa­ra­tion for the visit of Manch­ester City in mid­week with a 4-0 thrash­ing of De­portivo la Coruna yes­ter­day.

The Span­ish cham­pi­ons were al­ready 3-0 up thanks to Luis Suarez and a double from Rafinha when Messi was in­tro­duced af­ter nearly a month out with a groin prob­lem just be­fore the hour mark and wasted no time in scor­ing his ninth goal of the sea­son.

Barca trail league lead­ers Sevilla by a point af­ter the An­dalu­sians won away from home in La Liga for the first time in 23 games, tri­umph­ing 32 at Le­ganes. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid can move back to the top of the table when they face Granada and Real Betis re­spec­tively later on Satur­day.

“It was a com­plete per­for­mance,” said Barca boss Luis En­rique. “We have Leo back and it took him no time to be back in top form.” Barca have tra­di­tion­ally strug­gled on week­ends fol­low­ing in­ter­na­tional breaks and fell to a shock 2-1 de­feat at home to Alaves on their re­turn to ac­tion in Septem­ber.

De­portivo had also drawn 2-2 on their last two vis­its to the Camp Nou, but never threat­ened an­other up­set as Barca got back to win­ning ways af­ter los­ing 4-3 to Celta Vigo two weeks ago.

Ney­mar smashed a vol­ley against the bar and Suarez some­how headed the rebound over early on. How­ever, Barca had to wait just 21 min­utes to open the scor­ing when Rafinha ex­changed a one-two with Suarez be­fore drilling a low shot that had too much power for Ger­man Lux.

Rafinha bun­dled home a sec­ond 15 min­utes later af­ter Lux had saved Ger­ard Pique’s ini­tial ef­fort. Suarez moved level with An­toine Griez­mann as La Liga’s top scorer with six this sea­son when he bril­liantly turned away from the De­portivo de­fence when re­ceiv­ing Ney­mar’s through ball be­fore slot­ting home the third.

The Uruguayan then smacked the post him­self on the vol­ley be­fore he was re­placed by Paco Al­cacer at half-time to keep him fresh for the visit of City on Wed­nes­day.

Messi was next to be in­tro­duced from the bench and took just three touches to find the net when he flicked an­other Ney­mar as­sist over the help­less Lux.

De­portivo were re­duced to 10 men 25 min­utes from time when Laure’s frus­tra­tion boiled over as he saw red for el­bow­ing Ney­mar in the face. Al­cacer missed three golden op­por­tu­ni­ties to reg­is­ter his first Barca goal. And Lux pro­duced a bril­liant fly­ing stop to pre­vent Messi round­ing off his re­turn with a fifth.

Sevilla moved to the top by end­ing a 17month wait for an away league win at Le­ganes. Franco Vazquez’s opener and a sec­ond from the im­pres­sive Samir Nasri just be­fore the hour mark put Jorge Sam­paoli’s men well on course to end that bar­ren run. How­ever, their de­fen­sive frail­ties looked set to cost them vic­tory once more as Le­ganes fought back with two goals in three min­utes through David Ti­mor and Alexan­der Szy­manowski. Pablo Sara­bia proved the match win­ner off the bench, though, when he curled home from out­side the area his third goal in just seven La Liga games since join­ing from Getafe.

— AP

BARCELONA: FC Barcelona’s Paco Al­cacer, sec­ond left, du­els for the ball against De­portivo Coruna’s Ger­man Lux dur­ing the Span­ish La Liga soc­cer match be­tween FC Barcelona and De­portivo Coruna at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, yes­ter­day.

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