Barcelona 4-0 Deportivo: Lionel Messi scores within three minutes as Barca return to winning ways
By James Dale
Last Updated: 15/10/16 6:12pm
Substitute Lionel Messi took less than three minutes to find the net on his return to La Liga as Barcelona secured a 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna at the Nou Camp.
Luis Enrique opted to leave the Argentine on the bench after Messi missed their last three matches, but brought him on early in the second half with Barcelona set to face Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Barcelona were already 3-0 up when Messi was introduced, with Luis Suarez adding his sixth league goal of the season after Rafinha scored twice.
Barca remain behind Sevilla, who beat Leganes earlier on Saturday, but are back to winning ways ahead of the Champions League visit of Pep Guardiola's City.
Messi was sat alongside Samuel Umtiti, who was also making his return from injury, and Andres Iniesta as Enrique looked to Brazilian Rafinha to form the final part of Barcelona's attacking trio.
Deportivo made just one change from their win over Sporting Gijon before the international break, with Laure replacing Juanfran in defence, and the away side looked to be able to control Barcelona in the opening exchanges.
Just seven minutes in though Rafinha sparked into life, cutting inside from the right-hand side before delivering an inch-perfect cross to Neymar at the back post, whose volley hit the underside of the bar and was headed over by Suarez on the follow up.
Neymar took over set-piece duties in Messi's absence and his 25-yard free-kick dipped just over the bar after 17 minutes, while Andone had Deportivo's only opportunity of the half, hitting a long-range effort well wide.
Both sides were playing out from the back, but Deportivo were caught in possession by the lively Rafinha on the edge of their own area. The Brazilian exchanged a neat one-two with Suarez before squirming a shot beneath German Lux to give Barcelona the lead after 21 minutes.
The winger then made it two after Gerard Pique rose to meet a free-kick from the right-hand side, only for Lux's point-blank save to fall to Rafinha, who poked in his second of the game.
Two minutes before half-time Neymar jinked in between challenges on the edge of the opposition area before somehow squeezing a low ball into Suarez, whose first time finish found the bottom corner to make it 3-0.
Suarez could have had a hat-trick before half-time too, hitting the post from the corner of the penalty area with a first-time shot that caught Lux off-guard, before dipping a free-kick narrowly over the bar just before the break.
Messi was introduced on the 55th minute, immediately putting the captain's armband on, and found the net within three minutes. The Argentine latched onto Neymar's through ball to find the top corner with a first-time shot.
Pique missed a point-blank header from Neymar's corner as Barcelona dominated the second-half, and things got worse for Deportivo when Laure was sent off for a late challenge on the Brazil captain.
Substitute Paco Alcacer had three opportunities to further extend Barcelona's lead towards the end, but missed two gilt-edged chances from close range, with Lux making a spectacular save to tip one effort onto the post.
Barcelona saw out a comfortable victory though to put pressure on rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid before welcoming City to the Nou Camp on Wednesday.