Barcelona, Feb 18 (IANS) FC Barcelona coach Luis Enrique enjoyed a happy return to his hometown and the club where he began his career as his side beat Sporting Gijon 3-1 in La Liga.
Wednesday’s win opened up a six-point gap at the top of the standings for Barcelona over second place Atletico Madrid and seven over third positioned Real Madrid, reports Xinhua.
The game began with Barcelona moving the ball around the pitch looking for gaps in a well-organised and hard-working home side.
It was not until the 20th minute that Barcelona were able to create their first chance as Luis Suarez’s effort was saved by Pichu Cuellar in the Sporting goal.
That was the sign for the game to spring to life as Messi slotted home a left foot shot from outside of the penalty area to give the Barcelona the lead in the 25th minute with the 300th league goal of his incredible career.
It looked as if Barcelona had done the hard-work in getting ahead, but some poor defending just two minutes later saw a Sporting break finished by Carlos Castro, who arrived unmarked at the far post.
Three minutes later in a crazy 10 minute spell, Messi restored Barcelona’s lead from close range after being set up by Suarez.
The second half began like the first and although Sporting appealed for a penalty when Alen Halilovic fell in the visitors’ penalty area, but replays showed the referee was right in waving play on.
The referee awarded Barcelona a penalty on 60 minutes when Ivan Cuellar bundled over Neymar in the penalty area.
Suarez missed the penalty but then netted Barcelona’s third goal with a curing left foot shot just six minutes to secure the win.