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Messi played like a child in a school playground: Enrique on win over City

Making his first start in a month after recovering from a groin injury, Messi scored a hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-0 rout of Manchester City in the Champions League.

football Updated: Oct 20, 2016 13:42 IST
Champions League,Lionel Messi,Pep Guardiola
Making his first start in a month, Messi scored his second hat-trick of the season.(AFP)

Lionel Messi was like a “child playing in the playground” as he scored a hat-trick to inspire Barcelona’s 4-0 thrashing of Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday, his coach Luis Enrique said.

Making his first start in a month after recovering from a groin injury, Messi set the tone for another virtuoso performance with a storming run through the middle of City’s half before calmly dribbling past Claudio Bravo to score.

The floodgates opened once former Barca goalkeeper Bravo was sent off for handling outside the area and Messi toyed with City’s defence to smash the ball past compatriot Willy Caballero.

Read | Champions League: Messi hat-trick routs City; Bayern, Arsenal cruise

The five-time world player of the year sealed a second hat-trick of the season by tucking home a Luis Suarez cutback and was tripped by Aleksandar Kolarov in the dying minutes, although Brazilian forward Neymar missed the resulting penalty.

“We saw Messi play like a kid in the school playground today,” Luis Enrique told a news conference.

“Any other player would be shaking (after coming back from injury) but if we have come to expect anything from Messi, it’s that.

“It doesn’t matter how long he’s been out for or how many games he’s missed, he has a total understanding of football. Anyone who ever doubts Messi is naive.

“Those of us lucky enough to see him train every day know what he does. He helps in every sense and he is a reference point for us, without a doubt.”

Messi’s latest exhibition comes on the heels of a two-goal masterpiece against Bayern Munich, managed by his former Barca coach Guardiola, in a Champions League semi-final first leg in 2015.

“Since I’ve known him he’s always done things like that and he keeps doing it,” said Guardiola.

“This is not the first time he’s done this, I’ve seen him do it many times live before, but you have to congratulate him.”

Barcelona lead Manchester City by five points after three matches in Group C.

First Published: Oct 20, 2016 09:51 IST