Barcelona coach Enrique defends Messi, Suarez’s penalty

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Barcelona, Feb 15 (IANS) FC Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has rejected suggestions that the team’s “Cruyff” penalty was intended to embarrass La Liga opponents Celta Vigo, claiming he had seen strikers Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi produce moments of magic in training.

Messi passed up the chance to net his 300th La Liga goal and instead put a hat-trick on a plate for teammate Suarez with an outrageous penalty routine that evoked memories of Barcelona great Johan Cruyff in the La Liga match on Sunday.

With the Spanish club leading Celta Vigo 3-1 at the Camp Nou stadium here, Messi stunned the crowd by tapping an 81st-minute penalty to the side for Suarez, who raced into the box and fired past goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez.

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The goal took Suarez onto 23 in the league this season – two ahead of Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo – as Barca eased to a 6-1 win.

“There will be those who like it and those who don’t. As well as winning titles, here we try to entertain people and win in a spectacular and sporting manner,” Enrique said after the match on Sunday.

“You can take a penalty like that, it’s legal and there’s a Cruyff penalty we all know,” he said.

Dutch great Cruyff, who played and managed Barcelona during his illustrious career, pulled off a similar trick while playing for Ajax against Helmond Sport in 1982, squaring the ball for teammate Jesper Olsen, who then passed it back to him to score.

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Frenchmen Robert Pires and Thierry Henry tried a similar trick for Arsenal against Manchester City in 2005 but got into a muddle and failed to score.

The coach added there was nothing arrogant about Messi’s penalty and said there was a tendency in Spain to look down on moments of skill.

“In this country, a kick at an opponent is more readily accepted than anything fancy. We don’t care about that. What we have to do is enjoy our football, respect our opponents, try to show we’re better through football. I’m sorry but I don’t think anything special happened. I’m used to seeing them train and there they are even better,” Enrique said.

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