Messi scores on re­turn

> …as Atletico, Real stay top

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

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.

AFPPIX

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. –

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