Lionel Messi took just 25 minutes to score twice at the Nou Camp on Wednesday as he made a goalscoring return to action after almost two months out injured. ‘His career is like a film script’ said coach Tata Martino after the 4-0 win.
The four-time Ballon d’Or winner had been sidelined for 50 days and spent one month recuperating in Argentina but it was as if he had never been away while gliding past Getafe defenders with a double that all but assures Barcelona go into the Cup quarter-finals.
Messi would not be drawn afterwards on whether he will now start Saturday’s title crunch against Atletico Madrid. ‘We still have to take things bit by bit. I feel strong physically and of course I always want to play. I have missed playing,’ he told Barça TV.
On strike: Messi strikes the ball to score after returning from a spell on the sidelines with a thigh injury
Sweet taste of victory: Alex Song (right) shared this picture of him enjoying a post-match meal with Barca team-mates (from left) goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto, Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique
BARCELONA: Pinto; Montoya, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano; Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Iniesta (Messi 61); Pedro, Fabregas (Song), Alexis (Tello)
Goals: Fabregas 8, 62 pen, Messi 89, 90
GETAFE: Codina; Valera, Rafa, Alexis, Roberto Lago; Lacen, Borja; Pedro León, Diego Castro, Gavilán; Ciprian
But when asked about his future he was more decisive: ‘My dream is to finish my career here for as long as people want me,’ he said in what many will interpret as another dig at Barcelona director Javier Faus, whom he accused of knowing nothing about football in the row that erupted over claims Messi wanted a new deal.
The Argentine watched the first half from the bench and saw former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas lay the foundations for the win with a brace that took him to 11 goals for the season.
‘He (Fabregas) was the best player on the pitch,’ said coach Martino who now has the unenviable task of deciding who to leave out against Atletico. ‘I know I will end up being unfair to someone.’
The former Arsenal captain’s decision not to allow his head to be turned by Manchester United in the summer continues to look a wise one as he scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season.
But the night belonged to Messi and he almost scored a penalty with his first kick. Fabregas’s second goal came from the spot just as the Argentine was waiting to come on. At first it seemed Fabregas would allow his pal to come on and score with his first touch but Messi waited for the No 4 to bury the spot-kick before making his return.
Fabregas has thrived this season under Tata Martino and with 13 assists no-one has made more goals in European football. After this double in Barça’s first-leg last-16 game he is into double figures for goals scored this season, too.
Pedro crossed from the right after eight minutes and Fabregas headed past Jordi Codina. He then got his second from the penalty spot after Pedro had been brought down on the hour.
With his goals Fabregas became the fifth player into double figures joining Alexis Sanchez, Pedro, Neymar and Messi on 10 goals or more as the team that relied so heavily on the Argentine last season have managed to spread the load in his absence.
But it was Messi the 40,000 inside the Camp Nou wanted to see and his appearance on the touchline to warm-up after 50 minutes brought one of the loudest cheers of the night.
Former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova was in the crowd watching the game with his son. The man who led the club to the title last season but stood down in order to continue treatment of a salivary gland tumour will have enjoyed the Fabregas’ double and Messi’s scoring return having coached both as youth teamers back in 2003.
Messi capped his return by finding the back of the net in the last minute after Sergio Busquets and Martin Montoya had combined inside the area and then adding his second and Barça’s fourth on the night with the last kick of the game from Alex Song’s pass
Source : Daily Mail