Messi scores twice as Barca return to winning ways, hammer Leganes 5-1 | football | Hindustan Times
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Messi scores twice as Barca return to winning ways, hammer Leganes 5-1

football Updated: Sep 17, 2016 19:26 IST
AFP
AFP
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Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his second goal through a penalty. (AFP)

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.

Barca suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat to Alaves last weekend, but despite a bright start from the hosts there was to be no repeat of that upset once Suarez teed up Messi to open the scoring after 15 minutes.

Suarez and Neymar tapped home to give Barca a healthy half-time lead before a Messi penalty and wonder strike from Rafinha made it 5-0.

Gabriel Appelt Pires’s fine free-kick pulled a goal back for Leganes 10 minutes from time.

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 on Sunday.

Messi, Suarez and Neymar were starting 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’ high defensive line was torn apart in the first-half.

The hosts were given a warning when Diego Rico blocked Messi’s goalbound effort from Barca’s first counter-attack.

However, Leganes were punished moments later when Suarez showed great strength to burst down the right and his low cross was easily turned home by Messi.

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.

Leganes did pose a threat going forward as Venezuelan winger Darwin Marchis caused Javier Mascherano, playing in an unfamiliar role on the right of Barca’s defence, no end of problems.

Marchis was desperately unlucky not to halve Barca’s advantage when he was denied by a goal-line block from Samuel Umtiti having beaten Mascherano and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

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.

Leganes got the reward their display merited 10 minutes from time when Gabriel curled a sensational free-kick past the helpless ter Stegen.