Lionel Messi's brace helps Barcelona thrash Leganes 5-1 in La Liga

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Barcelona, Sep 17: Argentine forward Lionel Messi scored twice and assisted one as FC Barcelona continued their relentless charge with a 5-1 victory over newly promoted Leganés in the La Liga football competition on Saturday. [La Liga 2016-17: Schedule of Game week 4]

Apart from Messi (15th and 55th minutes), Luis Suarez (31st) and Neymar (44th) and Rafinha (64th) were on the scoresheet for the defending champions, who now have nine points from four matches.

Lionel Messi (right) celebrates after scoring for Barcelona (Image courtesy: FC Barcelona Twitter handle)

Barcelona had lost to Alaves 1-2 last weekend but they were back to their best against Leganes like the way they did midweek against Celtic Glasgow in the UEFA Champions League opener.

At the Butarque Stadium, a 15th minute counter-attack left the home side seriously exposed at the back as Luis Suárez slipped the ball into the box where both Messi and Neymar were waiting unmarked. The Argentinian popped it home and Barcelona were off to an early lead.

Fifteen minutes later, Messi did the hard work, riding a number of challenges on a heatseeking run into position to play the ball to Suárez. A simple tap-in for the Uruguayan made it 2-0.

In between, Leganes threatened with their opening effort and they would have been off the mark themselves had goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen first and defender Samuel Umiti a split-second later not been alert to what looked certain goals for Venezuelan Darwin Machis.

One minute before the half-time, Messi played the ball through, and Suárez opted for a cut-back to Neymar, who made it 3-0 to go to the half-time.

Ten minutes after the interval and Barcelona bagged another goal as a blatant tug by Unai Bustinza on Neymar's shirt had the referee pointing straight at the penalty spot. Moments later Messi pointed the ball straight into the top right corner of the net to make it 4-0.

Later, Rafinha blasted a thunderous strike into the top corner of the net in the 64th minute.

Gabriel scored a consolatory goal with a brilliant free-kick with ten minutes left on the clock.

IANS

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