Messi scores on return
> …as Atletico, Real stay top
LIONEL MESSI took just three minutes to score on his return from injury as Barcelona thrashed Deportivo la Coruna 4-0 yesterday, but Barca remain two points adrift of free-scoring Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
Yannick Carrasco’s hattrick and Nicolas Gaitan’s first two goals for Atletico inspired a storming fightback by Diego Simeone’s men to flatten Granada 7-1 after falling behind early on.
Real kept pace with their city rivals with four first-half goals of their own in a 6-1 win at Real Betis to snap a streak of four straight draws.
Barca 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 and wasted no time in scoring his ninth goal of the season.
“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.”
Messi wasn’t needed to be the match winner as Barca had the three points sewn up before the break.
Rafinha exchanged a one-two with Suarez before drilling a low shot that had too much power for German Lux and then 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.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (centre) vies with Deportivo’s Florin Andone (left) and Pedro Mosquera Parada during their La Liga match at the Camp Nou stadium yesterday. –