Leo Messi took little time to announce his return to fitness, and trademark ruthlessness, as the Argentina forward came off the bench in the second half at Camp Nou against a Depor side already 3-0 down and found the net after less than 180 seconds on the pitch.
City Champions League leg-stretch
Messi has been out of action with a groin problem for three weeks and started the match on the bench with Luis Enrique keen to preserve his star player for the Champions League match against Manchester City next week. Given the need for the Argentina captain to stretch his legs ahead of the potentially decisive encounter with Pep Guardiola’s City, the Barça boss elected to hand Messi the last half hour in Camp Nou with the game already beyond the visitors’ reach.
The number 10 took to the pitch in place of Sergio Busquets to a roar of approval from the stands and required less than two minutes to embark on an inviting run, picking up the ball from Neymar and beating Depor keeper Germán Lux with a deft flick.
It was Messi’s first Camp Nou goal as a substitute in La Liga since May 2013, when he came off the bench to score twice against Real Betis.
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