Magical Messi helps Barcelona move back to top of the table
It was a convincing win for Luis Enrique’s side as they thumped Celta Vigo at home
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Ivan Rakitic and Neymar celebrate after beating Celta Vigo 5-0. Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters
Barcelona 5 Celta Vigo 0
Barcelona quickly reclaimed top spot in LaLiga on Saturday night with a 5-0 rout of Celta Vigo, having briefly been usurped by Real Madrid.
Real had stormed to a 4-1 win at Eibar in the afternoon kick-off to move two points clear at the summit, but Barca, whose boss Luis Enrique announced earlier this week that he would leave his post at the end of the season, responded in style.
Barca have scored 11 goals in their last two league games, but face an uphill task as they look to overturn a 4-0 deficit against Paris St Germain in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.
The hosts were surprisingly lethargic in the opening stages and Messi’s uncharacteristically wayward touch saw the Argentinian miss the chance to put Barcelona ahead inside ten minutes.
A smart exchange from Neymar and Messi on the edge of the area came to nothing before the former’s audacious lob attempt failed to trouble Celta goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez as Enrique men’s looked lost for ideas.
Barca would then hit the post twice on the 20 minute mark as Luis Suarez nutmegged Facundo Roncaglia before his shot rebounded off the base of the post and into the path of Messi, who tried a first-time shot and also hit the framework.
Neymar had a strong case for a penalty moments later when a reckless challenge from Gustavo Cabral saw him bring down the Brazilian, but referee Jesus Gil Manzano was not convinced.
Barca finally grabbed the opener, however, as Messi showed sublime skill to skip past Cabral before curling a left-footed strike past the helpless Alvarez.
A nasty clash of heads between Celta’s Hugo Mallo and Barca’s Jordi Alba brought a stop to play momentarily before a Messi free-kick sailed over the bar. But the home side would double their advantage five minutes before half-time when Messi played through Neymar who delicately dinked the ball over Alvarez.
The home side, who had won five league games in succession, finished where they left off in the first-half and scored a third after 57 minutes. Messi spotted Rafinha’s run into the box but the Brazilian’s heavy touch fell to Rakitic, who appeared to be in an offside position, and the Croatian slotted the ball through the legs of Alvarez to make it 3-0.
Moments later, Messi was involved in the fourth which put the game out of reach for the visitors as his pass found Gerard Pique, who crossed to find his centre-back partner Umtiti to divert home for his first goal for the club.
Talisman Messi would then produce another piece of magic after 64 minutes to score his second of the game. The Argentinian picked the ball up on the right flank, sliced inside two Celta defenders and left Alvarez rooted to his spot.
Former Liverpool forward Iago Aspas went close to restoring some pride for Eduardo Berizzo’s side but Barca ran out comprehensive winners.