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Lionel Messi Has Sparkling Role As Barcelona Sweep Away Levante

in Sports/Top News

LIONEL Messi shrugged off a missed penalty and another injury to Neymar by scoring one goal and setting up two more as Barcelona swept aside 10-man Levante 5-0 away on Sunday to continue their winning start at the top of La Liga. Messi completed a sparkling performance by chipping the goalkeeper from the edge of the area.

The Argentinian set up Neymar, who rounded the keeper, Jesús Fernández, for the opening goal and Barça doubled their lead before the break after a fierce shot by Ivan Rakitic from 25 metres.

In between Messi had been brought down in the penalty area by Loukas Vyntra, who was sent off, but the striker missed the penalty.

After the restart Messi provided another assist, this time for the substitute Sandro Ramírez to finish clinically and Pedro knocked in another after the ball was pulled back by Jordi Alba.

Messi then got on the scoresheet as he lifted the ball over Fernández, who was off his line following a poor clearance.

Neymar went down clutching his lower left leg after Pedro López fell on top of him when contesting the ball. Barcelona team doctors attended him and signalled for a substitution even though Neymar was soon on his feet and appeared to want to go back on.

“Neymar twisted his ankle and suffered a sprain and we substituted him as a precaution,” the Barcelona coach, Luis Enrique, said. “He asked for the change and later wanted to try and continue playing but we had already made the decision.”

Barça have 12 points from 12 so far under their new coach, Enrique.

On Saturday Cristiano Ronaldo hit his 27th career hat-trick for seventh-placed Real Madrid in an 8-2 away thrashing of Deportivo La Coru̱a while the champions Atl̩tico Madrid in third were held 2-2 at home by Celta Vigo. РThe Independent

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