Messi atones for penalty miss with brace

BARCELONA • Lionel Messi made amends for a missed first-half penalty by scoring both goals as Barcelona won 2-0 at Alaves on Saturday, and Atletico Madrid grabbed their first LaLiga win of the campaign by thrashing Las Palmas 5-1.

Messi, who hit the woodwork thrice but failed to score in last week's 2-0 win over Real Betis, endured further frustration when his spot kick was parried away by Fernando Pacheco in the 41st minute after Gerard Pique was fouled.

But the five-time World Player of the Year then broke the deadlock with a scrappy effort in the 55th minute and then showed his class with a ruthless shot into the bottom corner to kill off Alaves.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised his side for a professional display in defiance of the gloomy atmosphere following Neymar's departure.

"We came here at a time when people are saying a lot of things about Barca, and that can have a negative impact. But the team showed that was not the case," he told reporters.

"We've had some difficult moments and we've overcome them. Now we've got six points and we're moving on upwards."

Real coach Zinedine Zidane's son, Enzo, made his LaLiga debut as a late substitute for Alaves but was unable to help the Basque side get back into the game.

Barca headed to the Basque country without injured striker Luis Suarez, although their morale was boosted by the signing of Ousmane Dembele. Brazilian Paulinho made his Barca debut but was limited to a cameo appearance when he came on late in the 88th minute.

In Las Palmas, Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco scored inside five minutes to put Atletico on their way to a drubbing of the hosts, with Koke adding two impressive strikes after the break.

Thomas Partey completed the rout after the home side's striker Jonathan Viera had a penalty saved by Jan Oblak.

"The game was very good from our point of view, we started with energy, dynamism and we knew where we could cause them damage," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.

"We helped ourselves by taking an early advantage and then it was a totally different game.

"We managed the game in the best way possible in the second half."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2017, with the headline 'Messi atones for penalty miss with brace'. Print Edition | Subscribe