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Messi Lifts Ten-Man Barca

Lionel Messi scored twice in Barcelona’s opening game of the La Liga season, as the 10-man Catalan giant beat Elche, 3-0, at the Camp Nou on Sunday. The Argentine forward used his signature burst of speed to dribble free of a pack of defenders before slotting home similar goals in the 41st and 63rd minutes.

However, Barca was reduced to 10 men mere seconds after Messi’s first, as Javier Mascherano was sent off for fouling Elche’s Garry Rodrigues with a clear path to goal. Nevertheless, the Spanish giant was able to extend its lead in the 46th minute through 18-year-old Munir El Haddadi, who started in place of the injured Neymar.

After the game, coach Luis Enrique hailed his star striker. "Leo is one-of-a-kind and today he was in a state of grace," the new Barca coach said. "He will be the best player in the world in every way he wants, defending or attacking."

Prior to the game, Messi, who went trophy-less with Barca and Argentina last season, expressed his desire for the new campaign by writing on his Facebook page: "First match today!!! I hope God is on our side for a great season."

Read the whole story at Associated Press »

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