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Lionel Messi scores on return in easy Barcelona win over Deportivo La Corua

Lionel Messi had been out for three weeks but scored three minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute to help Barcelona beat Deportivo La Corua 4-0

Lionel Messi scored within three minutes of returning to action for the first time in more than three weeks to help fire Barcelona to a resounding 4-0 home win over Deportivo La Corua.

The Brazilian midfielder Rafinha put the league champions ahead in the 21st minute with the help of lax goalkeeping from Germn Lux and slid in the second in the 36th after the stopper failed to hold Gerard Piqus header.

Luis Surez combined with Neymar to stretch Baras lead two minutes before the break and Messi latched on to a through ball from Neymar to stroke the ball high into the net in the 58th minute.

The Argentina maestro had replaced Sergio Busquets moments earlier to the delight of the Camp Nou faithful, also taking the captains armband from his team-mate. Messi looked fully recovered from the groin injury he had sustained against Atltico Madrid last month and is expected to return to the starting lineup for Wednesdays mouthwatering Champions League game against Manchester City, managed by Pep Guardiola, the former Bara coach.

Messi did not take long to make his mark on the game, said Luis Enrique, who adopted an unorthodox 3-5-2 formation for the second time this season. Our aim was to surprise them and it worked how we wanted it to. We created lots of chances and they created none. Deportivo have conceded very few goals this season and we got four.

Barcelona are third in the table, behind Atltico, who beat Granada 7-1 in the capital.

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