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Messi’s heroics against Betis earns Barcelona coach Koeman’s praise

Messi's heroics against Betis earns Barcelona coach Koeman's praise

SAMAA | - Posted: Feb 8, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Feb 8, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 months ago
Messi’s heroics against Betis earns Barcelona coach Koeman’s praise

Photo: AFP

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Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman lauded star striker Lionel Messi who scored his fastest league goal after coming on as substitute in the side's 3-2 win against Real Betis in the La Liga fixture on Sunday. The Argentine striker made an immediate impact in the game by scoring in 136 seconds after replacing Riqui Puig. Messi was among several key players rested, with Ronald Koeman seemingly prioritising Wednesday's Copa del Rey semi-final against Sevilla ahead of Barca's fading title challenge in La Liga. Defeat would have called that decision into question but Messi drove in an equaliser less than three minutes after coming on in the second half and then helped set up Francisco Trincao to score a late winner, the 21-year-old's first goal for Barcelona. "He changed the game," said Koeman, when asked about Messi. "It's a bit about the cup game but we also have to decide when the best moment is to rest players. The cup is the shortest route to a title this season." Koeman's side sit seven points behind La Liga's leaders Atletico Madrid, who have played two games fewer and face Celta Vigo at home on Monday night. Success also came at a cost as Barca's best available central defender Ronald Araujo was forced off with an ankle injury early on. With Gerard Pique already a long-term absentee, Araujo's fitness will be a huge concern, especially with a Champions League last 16 first leg at home to Paris Saint-Germain to come, a week after the test against Sevilla Messi magic Betis will wonder how they managed not to take at least a point from a wild contest at the Benito Villamarin but Barcelona sustain their momentum, this their sixth league victory in a row. They were hit early by the injury to Araujo, whose ankle caved under the weight of an awkward fall. Frenkie de Jong came in at centre-back and his partner Clement Lenglet should have given Barca the lead but headed wide from five yards out with nobody near him. Betis made them pay with a brilliant opening goal on the break. Ousmane Dembele lost the ball upfield and Betis poured forward, the ball shifted right to Emerson who motored round Jordi Alba and squared for Borja Iglesias to slam home. Juanmi might have made it two but was denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen before Messi came on for Miralem Pjanic in the 57th minute and equalised in the 59th. Dembele returned a pass to the Argentinian on the edge of the area and he drove a sizzling shot inside the post. Nine minutes later, Barca were in front, Alba's cross mishit by Antoine Griezmann, only for the ball to cannon in anyway off the legs of Victor Ruiz. Betis were not finished yet and neither was Ruiz, the defender making amends by heading in Nabil Fekir's crossed free-kick with 15 minutes left. Yet Barcelona had one more trick up their sleeve as Messi weaved in from the left and his chipped pass was headed into the path of the 21-year-old Trincao, whose thundering shot flew in off the crossbar. Follow Samaa Sports on Facebook and Twitter
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Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman lauded star striker Lionel Messi who scored his fastest league goal after coming on as substitute in the side’s 3-2 win against Real Betis in the La Liga fixture on Sunday.

The Argentine striker made an immediate impact in the game by scoring in 136 seconds after replacing Riqui Puig.

Messi was among several key players rested, with Ronald Koeman seemingly prioritising Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final against Sevilla ahead of Barca’s fading title challenge in La Liga.

Defeat would have called that decision into question but Messi drove in an equaliser less than three minutes after coming on in the second half and then helped set up Francisco Trincao to score a late winner, the 21-year-old’s first goal for Barcelona.

“He changed the game,” said Koeman, when asked about Messi. “It’s a bit about the cup game but we also have to decide when the best moment is to rest players. The cup is the shortest route to a title this season.”

Koeman’s side sit seven points behind La Liga’s leaders Atletico Madrid, who have played two games fewer and face Celta Vigo at home on Monday night.

Success also came at a cost as Barca’s best available central defender Ronald Araujo was forced off with an ankle injury early on.

With Gerard Pique already a long-term absentee, Araujo’s fitness will be a huge concern, especially with a Champions League last 16 first leg at home to Paris Saint-Germain to come, a week after the test against Sevilla

Messi magic

Betis will wonder how they managed not to take at least a point from a wild contest at the Benito Villamarin but Barcelona sustain their momentum, this their sixth league victory in a row.

They were hit early by the injury to Araujo, whose ankle caved under the weight of an awkward fall. Frenkie de Jong came in at centre-back and his partner Clement Lenglet should have given Barca the lead but headed wide from five yards out with nobody near him.

Betis made them pay with a brilliant opening goal on the break. Ousmane Dembele lost the ball upfield and Betis poured forward, the ball shifted right to Emerson who motored round Jordi Alba and squared for Borja Iglesias to slam home.

Juanmi might have made it two but was denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen before Messi came on for Miralem Pjanic in the 57th minute and equalised in the 59th. Dembele returned a pass to the Argentinian on the edge of the area and he drove a sizzling shot inside the post.

Nine minutes later, Barca were in front, Alba’s cross mishit by Antoine Griezmann, only for the ball to cannon in anyway off the legs of Victor Ruiz.

Betis were not finished yet and neither was Ruiz, the defender making amends by heading in Nabil Fekir’s crossed free-kick with 15 minutes left.

Yet Barcelona had one more trick up their sleeve as Messi weaved in from the left and his chipped pass was headed into the path of the 21-year-old Trincao, whose thundering shot flew in off the crossbar.

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