Lionel Messi handed Luis Suarez a hat-trick on a plate with an audaciously taken penalty as Barcelona hit Celta Vigo for six in La Liga on Sunday.
The Argentine rolled his 81st-minute spot-kick into Suarez’s path to allow him to complete his treble as Barca recovered from a low-key start to win 6-1 and maintain their place at the top of the Primera Division table.
Had Messi scored the penalty himself, it would have been his 300th Primera Division goal.
Barcelona do the Cruyff penalty!!!!
Unbelievable scenes!!! https://t.co/r9arChM3Bm
— Football Tweets (@FutballTweets) February 14, 2016
Barca were far from their fluent best before the break but took a 20th-minute lead when Messi, having gone close with an earlier attempt, curled a superb free-kick over the wall and beyond keeper Sergio Alvarez’s despairing dive.
But the lead was extinguished six minutes before the break when, having been tripped by defender Jordi Alba, Celta striker John Guidetti converted the resulting penalty despite keeper Claudio Bravo going the right way.
Suarez restored the home side’s lead when he played a delicious 59th-minute one-two with Messi and nonchalantly dispatched the return pass, and it was 3-1 15 minutes from time when he stabbed Neymar’s shot over the line after Messi and the Brazilian had torn the visitors apart.
The Uruguay striker completed his hat-trick in outrageous fashion from Messi’s penalty, and further goals from substitute Ivan Rakitic and Neymar completed the rout as time ran down.
— Andrew Cole (@vancole9) February 14, 2016
Messi, best I have ever seen. Would Ronaldo have done that when taking the penalty!? No chance. What a player, what a team. #Barca
— Matthew Etherington (@mattyethers) February 14, 2016
— Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham) February 14, 2016
Last time I saw that PK attempted was when Henry and Pires tried it over a decade ago. And failed miserably.
But Messi is a genius so…
— Alecko Eskandarian (@alecko11) February 14, 2016
Oh Messi! Makes me forgive you for putting a trophy on my head.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 14, 2016
Messi just missed a penalty…. Well he passed it to Suarez for a Hatrick. Good luck Arsenal. @IsaiahBright4
— Brighty (@Mark__Bright) February 14, 2016
Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba all had their say on the penalty routine afterwards.
“It was for me, we had practiced it in training!” Neymar said. “Leo and myself had practiced but Luis was closer and he scored it.
“Our friendship is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter who scores the goals just that we win the games.”
Iniesta said: “I had never seen them do it but I had heard them discuss it. Perhaps it was for Neymar but Luis was there so he converted it.”
Alba added: “I didn’t know because it’s not usual to pass, but he is always coming up with things,” Alba said. “It went well. The penalty was perfect. I don’t know if they talked about it, but they’re always trying things.”
Barca coach Luis Enrique acknowledged not everyone would have appreciated the routine.
“There will be a big debate and some will like it, some won’t, but as Barca players and members of the club, as well as winning trophies we try to enjoy our football in a spectacular way,” Luis Enrique said in his news conference.
“What we have to do is enjoy our football, respect our opponents and try and show that we are better at them at football.
“In this country a bad tackle is more acceptable than a piece of skill. We don’t care about the criticism. We know where it comes from.
“It’s a legal way to take it, and we all remember Cruyff doing it.”
He added jokingly: “I wouldn’t have done it as I would have fallen over.”