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Messi scores Barca’s 6000th goal in winning start to title defence

August 20, 2018

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BARCELONA: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (R) vies with Deportivo Alaves’ Victor Laguardia Cisneros during the La Liga match at the Camp Nou Stadium.—AFP
BARCELONA: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (R) vies with Deportivo Alaves’ Victor Laguardia Cisneros during the La Liga match at the Camp Nou Stadium.—AFP

MADRID: Barcelona scored their 6,000th goal in La Liga after another ingenious strike by Lionel Messi got their title defence off to a winning start.

Messi cleverly sent his free-kick underneath the Deportivo Alaves wall to open the scoring in the 64th minute of Barcelona’s 3-0 win at the Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday.

He also closed the scoring in injury time after substitute Philippe Coutinho had added to the lead in the 83rd.

Messi’s low free-kick fooled Alaves’ players, who jumped to intercept an expected high shot. Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco couldn’t get to the ball in time after it suddenly appeared underneath the barrier.

“I had no idea he was going to shoot like that, for us it’s spectacular that he has such a range of options,” said Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets.

“Sometimes in games like this you have to just wait for Leo to go and do his thing,” added Sergi Roberto.“The first time he hit the bar, the second time, goal number 6,000.”

Messi, the league’s top scorer last season, had struck the crossbar with a free-kick this time over the wall in the first half. He also hit the post from inside the area a few minutes after his opening goal.

Messi also scored Barcelona’s 5,000th league goal back in 2009, and the Argentine provided 338 of the goals taking the total from 5,000 to 6,000.

Barcelona’s first-ever league goal was scored by Manuel Parera against Racing Santander on Feb. 12, 1929.

Barcelona opened their league campaign with a win for the 10th straight season.

Messi’s second goal came in the second minute of injury time, an easy shot from close range after a breakaway.

Barcelona had missed chance after chance in their league debut at Camp Nou, which was far from packed with around 52,000 fans for the 10:15pm start local time.

Ousmane Dembele, who started up front with Messi and Luis Suarez, squandered a series of chances, including a one-on-one with goalkeeper Pacheco in the first half.

Valverde brought Coutinho off the bench in the second half and the Brazil playmaker added the team’s second goal after a nice play that culminated with an easy strike from inside the area.

Earlier on Saturday, Real Sociedad capitalised on two defensive errors to come from behind and win 2-1 at Villarreal, who saw Santi Cazorla make his first competitive appearance since October 2016 after recovering from a serious foot injury.

Celta Vigo were held to a 1-1 draw by Espanyol, while on Friday Levante pulled off a surprise 3-0 win at Real Betis.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2018