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Messi-Suarez 'penalty of the century' hailed as instant classic

By Agence France Presse In Barcelona | China Daily | Updated: 2016-02-16 08:50

Barcelona star Neymar claimed he was meant to be the recipient of Lionel Messi's sensational pass from a penalty that was converted by Luis Suarez as the European champion routed Celta Vigo 6-1 on Sunday.

Messi and Suarez combined to score one of the classiest penalties in soccer history as Messi squared his spot kick for the onrushing Suarez to complete his hat-trick ahead of Neymar.

"It was designed for me, we had practised it, but Luis was closer," Neymar told Barca TV.

"It doesn't matter. He scored, so it worked well."

Barca was already leading 3-1 when Messi - who has missed 17 of 83 penalties in his career - was chopped down inside the area after an outrageous piece of skill on the byline.

Messi with a brilliant free kick, Ivan Rakitic and Neymar got the other goals as La Liga leader Barca moved three points clear of the pack.

"The forwards are very generous. We love each other a lot and that friendship is the most important thing, no matter who scores the goals," said Neymar.

The penalty brought back memories of another legend, Johan Cruyff, when he and Jesper Olsen played a 1-2 for the Dutchman to score for Ajax against Helmond Sport in 1982.

"We all remember Cruyff's goal," said Barca boss Luis Enrique. "I wouldn't dare to do it because I would tread on the ball.

"Some will like it, some won't, but as Barca players and members of the club, on top of winning titles we try to enjoy our football in a spectacular way."

Spanish sports daily AS quickly christened the move as the "penalty of the century".

Yet, other sections of the Spanish media also claimed Barca's creativity bordered on a lack of respect for its opponent.

"We have to enjoy our football, respect the opponents and try to show we are the best through the way we play," said Enrique.

"In this country a kick is better accepted than a piece of skill. It doesn't bother us."

French duo Thierry Henry and Robert Pires tried a similar trick without success when they botched a penalty for Arsenal against Manchester City in 2005.

Barca defender Jordi Alba admitted the South American duo had caught even their teammates by surprise.

"Leo always invents things and it was done perfectly," said the Spanish international.

"We hadn't seen it in any training session, we didn't know anything."

Atletico Madrid remains three points behind as it was a 1-0 winner at Getafe thanks to Fernando Torres's first-minute goal.

Real Madrid slips down to third, a further point back of Barca, which has a game in hand on both clubs from the capital.

Messi-Suarez 'penalty of the century' hailed as instant classic

Barcelona's Luis Suarez scores against Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on Sunday.Albert Gea / Reuters

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