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Rediff.com  » Sports » La Liga: Messi on target as Barca hammer Deportivo

La Liga: Messi on target as Barca hammer Deportivo

October 15, 2016 23:13 IST

Lionel Messi

IMAGE: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates with his team mate Gerard Pique after scoring against RC Deportivo La Coruna. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images.

Lionel Messi scored within three minutes of returning to action for the first time in more than three weeks to help fire La Liga champions Barcelona to a resounding 4-0 home win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.

Brazilian midfielder Rafinha put Barca ahead in the 21st minute with the help of lax goalkeeping from Deportivo's German Lux and slid in the second in the 36th after the stopper failed to hold Gerard Pique's header.

Luis Suarez combined with Neymar to stretch Barca's lead two minutes before the break and substitute Messi latched on to a through ball from the Brazilian to stroke the ball high into the net in the 58th.

The Argentine maestro had replaced Sergio Busquets moments earlier to the delight of the Nou Camp faithful, also taking the captain's armband from his team mate.

Lionel Messi

IMAGE: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona scores past Alejandro Arribas of RC Deportivo La Coruna. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images.

Messi looked fully recovered from the groin injury he had sustained against Atletico Madrid last month and is expected to return to the starting lineup for Wednesday's mouthwatering Champions League game against former coach Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

"Messi did not take long to make his mark on the game," said Luis Enrique, who adopted an unorthodox 3-5-2 formation for the second time this season.

"Our aim was to surprise them and it worked how we wanted it to. We created lots of chances and they created none. Deportivo have conceded very few goals this season and we got four."

Earlier on Saturday, a late strike from Pablo Sarabia gave Sevilla a dramatic 3-2 win at Leganes to provisionally send them top of La Liga and end their 17-month spell without an away league win.

Franco Vazquez gave Jorge Sampaoli's side the lead in the 25th minute and they looked well on their way to ending their barren spell on the road when Samir Nasri doubled the lead in the 58th from close range.

A familiar feeling would have gripped Sevilla when quick-fire strikes from David Timor and Alexander Szymanowski in the space of three minutes put the home side level, but Sarabia smashed in from outside the area with five minutes remaining to earn a first away win since beating Malaga in May 2015.

Atletico Madrid can return to the league's summit when they host Granada later on Saturday while Real Madrid, who are also on 15 points, travel to Real Betis.

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