FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (left) celebrates with team-mate Cesc Fabregas after scoring the opening goal against UD Almeria during the Spanish Liga Primera Division match at Juegos Mediterraneos Stadium, in Almeria, Spain, yesterday.
MADRID: Barcelona ensured their best ever start to a Spanish league season thanks to a 2-0 win at Almeria yesterday, but the victory came at a cost as Lionel Messi was forced off with a thigh injury.
The champions have now won their first seven league games for the first time in their history and 12 league games in a row stretching back to the end of last season.
Messi had fired the visitors into a 21st-minute lead with a sensational piece of play as he cut inside two defenders before curling the ball in off the far post from 20 yards.
However, the Argentine had to be replaced six minutes later due to a hamstring problem.
And despite looking far from their fluent best without the World Player of the Year, Barca doubled their advantage when Adriano prodded home Cesc Fabregas’ cross early in the second-half. Gerardo Martino continued with his policy of rotating his star names but Barca still started the game strongly.
Andres Iniesta forced Esteban into a fine save after just six minutes with a left-footed volley form outside the area before Gerard Pique ought to have opened the scoring when he failed to properly connect with Messi’s free-kick at the back post seven minutes later.
Messi did then give Barca the lead with a sweet strike from the edge of the area to register his 11th goal of the season.
He was clearly in some discomfort thereafter and was replaced by Xavi Hernandez.
“Messi has a muscular injury in his right thigh,” Barcelona said in a statement on the club’s official Twitter account.
The statement added: “Tomorrow, he will have more tests to discover the exact
extent of the injury.” AFP