Friday, 6th March 2015

Messi back on song as Luis Enrique era gets flying start in Camp Nou

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There was good news for FC Barcelona in their first BBVA Primera Liga game of the season as the side now coached by Luis Enrique kicked off their campaign with a 3-0 win at home to Elche.

The best news for Barca was that after a disappointing season, Leo Messi looks to be back to his best and the striker showed that with two goals, while in youngster Munir, who netted the second of the game, the club has unearthed another gem in its youth system.

Luis Enrique made it clear in his starting 11 that he is his own man and not afraid to show faith in youth and with Neymar failing to recover from a twisted ankle and Luis Suarez suspended for another 2 months, he gave a debut to 18 year-old striker, Munir, who last season was with the club's Under-19's and Rafinha, who was with the coach at Celta, both in the side.

New arrival Jeremy Mathieu made his league debut alongside Javier Mascherano in central defense, while Ivan Rakitic was also in the side, while Xavi Hernandez was on the bench.

The game was delayed for a couple of minutes after kick off when a black cat decided to make a tour of the pitch but Barca did not let any ill omens worry them as they dominated the first half, controlling 79 percent of the ball.

Munir and Andres Iniesta both rattled the woodwork before Messi opened the scoring following a poor clearance: Sergio Busquets won a loose ball to set the striker up and he produced a trademark finish.

Barca were reduced to 10 men after Javier Mascherano was sent off for a professional foul just before the break, but the man advantage was a false friend for Elche, who left more spaces after the break.

Munir made it 2-0 two minutes after the break after controlling a fine pass from Rakitic and Messi sealed the win 25 minutes from time to ensure that the Luis Enrique era got off to a positive start.

There was history made in Eibar's little Ipurua Stadium as the side from the Basque region played with first ever Primera Liga game: a Basque derby against Real Sociedad and it was a fairytale debut for Eibar as Javi Lara's free kick on the stroke of halftime giving them a magnificent and well-deserved win.

Meanwhile Celta Vigo also got off to a good start as they defeated a poor Getafe 3-1 thanks to goals from Nolito, Orellana and former Rayo striker, Larrivay.

Saturday saw Malaga defeat Athletic Club Bilbao 1-0 after the visitors had a perfectly good goal scored by goalkeeper Gorka Izaizoz in the 94th minute disallowed by referee Matheu Lahoz.

Almeria drew 1-1 at home to Espanyol in a game interrupted by a floodlight failure, while Sevilla and Valencia drew a tight game 1-1 and Joaquin Caparros' Granada spoiled Deportivo la Coruna's return to the top flight with a 2-1 defeat of the recently promoted outfit. MADRID, Aug. 24 (Xinhua)



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