Football

Enrique in awe of Messi

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique admitted that he was running out of superlatives for Lionel Messi after the Argentinian's superb strike and a goal from Luis Suarez secured a 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final, first-leg match yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Suarez and Messi scored in the first half as Barcelona dominated the early stages, taking a two-goal lead into the break at the Vicente Calderon.

However, a revitalised Atletico emerged after half-time, pulling a goal back through Antoine Griezmann and creating enough chances to feel hard done by at not going to the Nou Camp at least level.

Barca took an early lead due to some individual brilliance from Suarez.

Javier Mascherano set the forward free inside the Atletico half and the former Liverpool man ran at the defence, slipping the ball past Stefan Savic before racing onto it and tucking his shot under Miguel Moya.

The lead was doubled shortly after the half-hour mark, as Messi cut in onto his left foot before rifling an unstoppable shot across Moya into the top corner from 25 metres.

"It's in big, special games like this that Messi shines," Enrique told fcbarcelona.com. "There aren't many words left to describe him. It's in big games that we see the best of Messi.

"We'll try to win this in the second leg and try to keep the ball as much as possible.

"It'll be a different stage, and one that's more favourable to us. I hope the Nou Camp will be packed to cheer us on."

Fernando Torres and Griezmann had late chances to grab the draw, but were unable to find an equaliser.

"We knew what dangerous pressure Atletico create. We were in great control of it in the first half, both in defence and when moving into attack," said Enrique. "In the second half, we started to have more problems and the goal got them back into the tie.

"But it was a magnificent result - we coped well and I'm pleased. We've got an interesting second leg ahead of us." 
- PA SPORT

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