2016/2017 Spanish Primera División
  • Rafinha (21', 36')
  • Luis Suárez (43')
  • Lionel Messi (58')
  • Laure (65')

Lionel Messi returns from injury as Barcelona thrash Depor

Lionel Messi marked his return from injury with a goal as Barcelona beat Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 to atone for the horror defeat at Celta Vigo before the international break.

The Argentinian had only been on the field for three minutes when he scored Barca's fourth, having missed their last three matches with a groin injury.

Rafinha's brace set Luis Enrique's men on a winning path and Luis Suarez's well-taken effort just before half-time ended the match as a contest, with Manchester City -- and Pep Guardiola -- the next visitors to the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Barcelona's first notable effort on goal was a Neymar volley against the bar from a Rafinha cross, with Suarez somehow contriving to head the rebound over when it looked easier to score.

Neymar followed up with a 12th-minute free kick just over the top and at the other end Florin Andone was off target with a powerful but wayward shot.

The opener arrived when Rafinha hustled Depor out of possession on the edge of the box, Suarez slipped the ball back to the Brazilian and he fired a shot past goalkeeper German Lux from a tight angle.

Depor's afternoon soon got worse as defender Sidnei limped off injured to be replaced by Alejandro Arribas in the 28th minute.

Barca's second arrived in the 36th minute and again it was Rafinha who got it, applying the finish from a prone position after Lux had beaten away a Gerard Pique header.

Suarez added an excellent third six minutes later with a superb turn and shot beyond Lux from Neymar's pass, his sixth La Liga goal of the season, and the Uruguayan almost provided a fourth seconds later with a shot which rattled the post with Lux well beaten.

Those were his last acts of the game as coach Enrique, conscious he was one booking away from a ban, took him off at half-time and brought on Paco Alcacer.

There was an even more significant change 10 minutes into the second period as Messi returned to the fray in place of Sergio Busquets to a raucous reception. The Argentinian's impact was instant, scoring from an acute angle after Neymar had teed him up.

Pique headed another chance over the top and the visitors had Laure sent off for an elbow on Neymar with 25 minutes still to go.

Alcacer's luck was out as his header with less than 20 minutes left was kept out by a stunning athletic save from Lux with the help of the post.

The Argentinian goalkeeper was called on again to get fingertips to a fierce strike from Messi and defender Jeremy Mathieu had a headed goal ruled out for offside, but the job had already been done with some comfort.

Spanish Primera División Standings

1 Barcelona 23 +37 51
2 Real Madrid 23 +13 45
3 Atletico Madrid 23 +16 44
4 Sevilla FC 23 +13 37
5 Getafe 24 +9 36
6 Alavés 23 -3 35
7 Real Betis 23 -3 32
8 Valencia 23 +4 31
9 Real Sociedad 23 +2 31
10 Eibar 24 -1 31
11 Leganes 23 -2 29
12 Espanyol 23 -10 28
13 Athletic Bilbao 23 -5 27
14 Levante 23 -10 27
15 Real Valladolid 23 -9 26
16 Celta Vigo 23 -4 24
17 Girona 23 -10 24
18 Rayo Vallecano 23 -13 23
19 Villarreal 23 -8 20
20 Huesca 23 -16 18