21 September 2014 23:59
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has saluted Lionel Messi after an inspiring performance in Sunday’s 5-0 win at Levante.
The Argentina star may have missed a first-half penalty after being tripped by Loukas Vyntra, but he also netted Barca’s fifth and claimed two assists in a dominant performance from La Liga’s early leaders.
Neymar profited from Messi’s first assist, latching on to a fine throughball before skipping past goalkeeper Jesus Fernandez and slotting into an empty net to open the scoring.
Ivan Rakitic doubled Barca’s advantage just before the break and Neymar’s replacement Sandro Ramirez stroked home with just under an hour gone following Messi’s incisive run.
Pedro grabbed Barca’s fourth before Messi completed the resounding triumph in the 77th minute, causing Luis Enrique to wax lyrical about his star man’s display.
“He’s special,” he is quoted as saying by Mundo Deportivo.
“His team-mates know he can make spectacular assists. I love these combinations.”
Rakitic smashed in an emphatic finish to give Barca a 2-0 lead in the 44th minute, opening his account for the club following his close-season arrival from Sevilla and the Croatia international was somewhat relieved.
“Thank God the goal went in,” the midfielder said. “They’d begun joking about it [not scoring] in the locker room.
“The important thing for me is to help the team. I am grateful for every minute I play. I’ll do my best.
“It’s important we push on. We know we have to keep fighting and fighting for everything.”