Suarez dou­ble, Messi magic hands Barca derby de­light

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Lionel Messi put on a show in Barcelona’s fi­nal Span­ish league game of the year, scor­ing once and mes­mer­iz­ing with his drib­bling skills to set up two other goals in a 4-1 win against Es­panyol in the city derby on Sun­day. Luis Suarez struck the first two goals and Jordi Alba added an­other in a vic­tory that left Barcelona three points be­hind leader Real Madrid ahead of the win­ter break. Madrid, which won FIFA’s Club World Cup in Ja­pan this week­end, has a game in hand.

Messi daz­zled the crowd at Camp Nou for the first time when he cleared four de­fend­ers out­side the area - in­clud­ing by rolling the ball be­tween the legs of one of them - be­fore hav­ing his shot par­ried. Suarez pounced on the loose ball to score his se­cond goal in the 67th minute.

“That was a PlayS­ta­tion play by Messi,” Suarez said. “I wish he had ended it with the goal, it would have been one of the best in the last few years.” A minute later, Messi used his pace and clever drib­bles to get past four de­fend­ers again, and then passed for Alba to find the net from in­side the area.

Af­ter nearly scor­ing following a neat feint that fooled two de­fend­ers in­side the area, Messi fin­ished the night in style by find­ing the net from close range af­ter a pass by Suarez in the 90th. For the se­cond time of the night, the crowd got to its feet and chanted “Messi, Messi.” “In the se­cond half we saw the most spec­tac­u­lar ver­sion of our play­ers up front, es­pe­cially Messi,” Barcelona coach Luis En­rique said. “We shouldn’t stop prais­ing some­thing just be­cause it hap­pens so many times that it looks rou­tine. We shouldn’t get used to it, it’s unique.” Suarez, the league’s lead­ing scorer with 12 goals along with Messi, had opened the scor­ing in the 18th, while David Lopez net­ted Es­panyol’s lone goal in the 79th.

Messi started the re­mark­able move that led to Suarez’s se­cond goal af­ter a su­perb run by An­dres Ini­esta, who had to get past three de­fend­ers him­self be­fore be­ing able to feed Messi out­side the area. Ini­esta had also un­leashed a spec­tac­u­lar lon­grange pass to set up Suarez’s first goal on the break. “When we are all play­ing well as a group, it makes it eas­ier for the in­di­vid­ual play­ers to make things hap­pen,” Ini­esta said. “Leo is cru­cial for us.”

Ney­mar didn’t find the net but was still im­pres­sive, cre­at­ing scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and en­ter­tain­ing the crowd with his play. The Brazil striker started the move that led to Barcelona’s third goal. “We played well,” Es­panyol’s Lopez said, “but when you make a small mis­take and give them as much as a me­ter, they will score against you.”The re­sult ended Es­panyol’s nine-game un­beaten streak in the league, leav­ing it in ninth place af­ter 16 rounds. It had de­feated Barcelona’s re­serves 1-0 in Oc­to­ber to win the Cata­lan Su­per Cup, a com­pe­ti­tion played by Cat­alo­nia’s top two clubs.

Es­panyol’s start­ing goal­keeper Diego Lopez had to be sub­sti­tuted in the 53rd minute af­ter sus­tain­ing a se­vere cut to his right when he col­lided with Suarez while mak­ing a slid­ing save in­side the area.

LEGANES 1, EIBAR 1

Por­tuguese sub­sti­tute Ti­ago “Bebe” Cor­reia scored six min­utes af­ter com­ing on to give Eibar a 1-1 draw at 10-man Leganes.

Bebe equal­ized in the 76th minute with a shot that de­flected off a de­fender and fooled sub­sti­tute goal­keeper Diego Bar­rios. Start­ing goal­keeper Iago Her­rerin was sent off in the 26th for a bad foul out­side the area while try­ing to stop a coun­ter­at­tack.

Play­ing in the first divi­sion for the first time, Leganes has drawn three in a row and hasn’t won in four rounds.

De­portivo La Coruna de­feated last-place Osasuna to move four points clear of the rel­e­ga­tion zone ahead of the break. First-half goals by Florin An­done and Ryan Ba­bel se­cured vic­tory for the hosts, which lie 15th in the 20-team stand­ings. It was the sixth straight loss for pro­moted Osasuna, which stayed with only seven points from 16 games. — AP

BARCELONA: Barcelona’s Uruguayan for­ward Luis Suarez (L) cel­e­brates his goal dur­ing the Span­ish league foot­ball match FC Barcelona vs RCD Es­panyol at the Camp Nou sta­dium in Barcelona on Sun­day. — AFP

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