MSN spot-on for Barca

> Messi dou­ble leads five-star Barca past Le­ganes

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

LIONEL MESSI, Luis Suarez and Ney­mar were all on tar­get as Barcelona got back to win­ning ways in La Liga with a 5-1 thrash­ing at newly pro­moted Le­ganes on Satur­day.

An­toine Griez­mann and Fer­nando Tor­res struck twice as Atletico Madrid moved into fourth with their third win of the week in a 5-0 rout of Sport­ing Gi­jon.

Barca move level with Real Madrid at the top of the ta­ble, but Madrid play their game in hand away to Es­panyol with­out the in­jured Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Gareth Bale.

Atletico travel to face Barcelona next on Wed­nes­day.

“We started very well. If we had started slug­gishly, think­ing we just needed to turn up to win, then we would have strug­gled a lot more,” said Barca boss Luis En­rique.

Messi, Suarez and Ney­mar started to­gether for only the sec­ond time this sea­son and, just as in a 7-0 thrash­ing of Celtic on Tues­day, showed no mercy as Le­ganes’s high de­fen­sive line was torn apart in the first-half.

“On one hand their high press­ing made things un­com­fort­able, but on the other hand it meant we could take ad­van­tage of the space,” added En­rique.

Af­ter a bright start from Le­ganes, Suarez showed great strength to burst down the right and his low cross was eas­ily turned home by Messi for the opener.

The roles were re­versed for Barca’s sec­ond when Messi was gifted pos­ses­sion in­side the Le­ganes half and waltzed past two de­fend­ers be­fore tee­ing up Suarez for a tap-in.

Suarez bagged his sec­ond as­sist of the half just be­fore the break when he was re­leased clear on goal and self­lessly squared for Ney­mar this time to roll into an empty net.

All of Barca’s front three were in­volved for the fourth 10 min­utes af­ter the break as Ney­mar latched onto Suarez’s ball over the top and was dragged down by Unai Bustinza.

Messi showed no signs of the penalty yips he suf­fered last sea­son and at the Copa Amer­ica in June as he fired into the top cor­ner for his eighth goal in as many games this sea­son.

How­ever, the two best goals of the af­ter­noon were still to come as Rafinha cut in­side onto his weaker left foot to un­leash a rocket into the top cor­ner for Barca’s fifth.

And Le­ganes got the re­ward their dis­play mer­ited 10 min­utes from time when Gabriel Ap­pelt Pires curled a sen­sa­tional free­kick past the help­less Marc-An­dre ter Ste­gen.

Atletico will travel to the Cata­lan cap­i­tal in mid­week full of con­fi­dence af­ter a maul­ing of Sport­ing reg­is­tered their first home win of the sea­son.

Griez­mann took just two min­utes to open the scor­ing when he raced onto Kevin Gameiro’s through ball be­fore com­pos­ing him­self to slot past Ivan Cuel­lar.

Gameiro lashed home his first Atletico goal from open play fol­low­ing a move from Sevilla just three min­utes later.

Not to be out­done by his French in­ter­na­tional team­mate, Griez­mann then unleashed a stun­ning ef­fort of his own from out­side the box to make it 3-0 af­ter just half an hour.

Atletico boss Diego Sime­one, who short­ened his con­tract from 2020 to 2018 in mid­week, re­placed Griez­mann with Tor­res early in the sec­ond-half with one eye on his side’s up­com­ing trip the Camp Nou.

“For me he was the best player in Europe last sea­son,” Sime­one said of Griez­mann af­ter his sec­ond dou­ble in as many La Liga games.

“That con­sis­tency will only serve to make him stronger.”

Tor­res made it 4-0 with a neat near-post fin­ish from An­gel Cor­rea’s cross be­fore round­ing off the scor­ing from the penalty spot af­ter Ni­co­las Gai­tan had been felled in­side the area. – AFP

– AFPPIX

Barcelona for­ward Lionel Messi (cen­tre) flfl icks the ball past Le­ganes goal­keeper dur­ing the Span­ish league match at the Bu­tar­que Mu­nic­i­pal Sta­dium in Le­ganes yes­ter­day.

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