‘Penalty of the cen­tury’

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA — Barcelona star Ney­mar claimed he was meant to be the re­cip­i­ent of Lionel Messi’s sen­sa­tional pass from a penalty that was con­verted by Luis Suarez as the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons routed Celta Vigo 6-1 on Sun­day. Messi and Suarez com­bined to score one of the classi­est penal­ties in foot­ball his­tory as Messi squared his spot­kick for the on­rush­ing Suarez to com­plete his hat-trick ahead of Ney­mar.

“It was de­signed for me, we had prac­tised it, but Luis was closer,” Ney­mar told Barca TV.

“It doesn’t mat­ter, he scored so it worked well.”

Barca were al­ready lead­ing 3-1 when Messi - who has missed 17 of 83 penal­ties in his ca­reer - was chopped down in­side the area af­ter an out­ra­geous piece of skill on the by-line.

Messi with a bril­liant free-kick, Ivan Rakitic and Ney­mar got the other goals as Barca moved three points clear at the top of La Liga.

“The for­wards are very gen­er­ous. We love each other a lot and that friend­ship is the most im­por­tant thing, no mat­ter who scores the goals,” added Ney­mar.

The penalty brought back mem­o­ries of an­other Barca leg­end Jo­han Cruyff when he and Jes­per Olsen played a one-two for the Dutch­man to score when play­ing for Ajax against Hel­mond Sport in 1982.

“We all re­mem­ber Cruyff’s goal,” said Barca boss Luis En­rique.

“I wouldn’t dare to do it be­cause I would tread on the ball.

“Some will like it, some won’t, but as Barca play­ers and mem­bers of the club, on top of win­ning ti­tles we try to en­joy our foot­ball in a spec­tac­u­lar way.”

Span­ish sports daily AS quickly chris­tened the move as the “penalty of the cen­tury.”

Yet, other sec­tions of the Span­ish me­dia also claimed Barca’s cre­ativ­ity boarded on a lack of re­spect for their op­po­nents.

“We have to en­joy our foot­ball, re­spect the op­po­nents and try to show we are the best through the way we play,” added En­rique.

“In this coun­try a kick is bet­ter ac­cepted than a piece of skill. It doesn’t bother us.”

French duo Thierry Henry and Robert Pires tried a sim­i­lar trick with­out suc­cess as they botched a penalty for Arse­nal against Manch­ester City in 2005.

And Barca de­fender Jordi Alba ad­mit­ted the South Amer­i­can duo had caught even their team­mates by sur­prise.

“Leo al­ways in­vents things and it was per­fect,” said the Span­ish in­ter­na­tional.

“We hadn’t seen it in any train­ing ses­sion, we didn’t know any­thing.” — AFP

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