Injury-free at last, Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi dazzles in win
Barca superstar provides decisive assist against Inter in only his second start
Lionel Messi showed Barcelona what they have been missing with his repeated injuries this season by producing a stunning and decisive assist in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 2-1 victory over Inter Milan.
The Argentine was making only his second start of the season in all competitions, but helped decide the game with a breathtaking piece of skill to set up Luis Suarez's second strike in the 84th minute of their Champions League Group F encounter.
The Barca captain picked the ball up close to the halfway line on the right wing and dazzled past three Inter players before taking out another with a pass across to Suarez, who took one touch before burying the ball in the net.
Inter, who produced a hugely impressive display in the first half, had taken a third-minute lead through Lautaro Martinez which was cancelled out by an outstanding volley from Suarez after the interval.
"I've just been trying to get going, I'm glad I was able to complete the game and end it well," Messi said after playing 90 minutes for the first time this season.
"I'm tired and I'm lacking a bit of fitness, but once I play more games I'll start feeling more liberated. I feel at my best when I'm playing a lot of games."
Mess returned to pre-season later than the rest of his teammates due to his involvement in the Copa America and suffered a calf injury on his first day back in training.
Repeated fitness setbacks meant he played only two of Barca's seven La Liga games, in which the champions have dropped eight points and fallen to fourth in the standings.
On Monday morning (Singapore time), the Catalan side take on Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla, who are in sixth in La Liga on 13 points, the same as the Nou Camp outfit.
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde praised the impact of Messi, though he admitted that his talisman was far from him best.
"It is the first game that he played in full, also a game with a significant physical burden on the opponents and the competition," Valverde was quoted as saying by Goal.com.
"In any play, he can help you even when he is tired. Messi has not done a pre-season like the others, so he has to catch up.
"In the end, he made a fantastic play, but he was more tired than at the beginning."
Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen added: "We are so happy that he was able to play for 90 minutes. We just hope he doesn't get injured again because it's always easier when he's around.
"We are always happy when he is on the pitch and he is able to do what he does best - provide passes, assists and goals." - REUTERS
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