Coach: Messi's penalty pass not a slight

HERE'S NO. 3: Barcelona's Messi tapping a pass from the penalty spot into the path of a charging Suarez to score his hat-trick. Barcelona won the match against Celta Vigo 4-1.


    Feb 16, 2016

    Coach: Messi's penalty pass not a slight


    LIONEL Messi passed up the chance to net his 300th La Liga goal and, instead, put a hat-trick on a plate for team mate Luis Suarez with an outrageous penalty routine that evoked memories of Barcelona great Johan Cruyff on Sunday.

    With Barcelona leading Celta Vigo 3-1 at a buzzing Nou Camp, Messi stepped forward in the 81st minute to take the spot-kick. But he stunned the crowd by tapping the ball to the side for Suarez, who raced into the box and fired past goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez.

    Coach Luis Enrique rejected suggestions the penalty was intended to embarrass the opposition. He said he had seen his attacking trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar produce moments of magic in training.

    "There will be those who like it and those who don't," he told reporters.

    "As well as winning titles, here we try to entertain people and win in a spectacular and sporting manner.

    "You can take a penalty like that, it's legal and there's a Cruyff penalty we all know."

    Dutch great Cruyff pulled off a similar trick while playing for Ajax against Helmond Sport in 1982.

    He squared the ball for Jesper Olsen, who then passed it back to him to score.

    The coach added there was nothing arrogant about Messi's penalty.

    "What we have to do is enjoy our football, respect our opponents, try to show we're better through football.

    "I'm sorry but I don't think anything special happened. I'm used to seeing them train and there they are even better."