Luis Enrique dismisses Messi conspiracy theories

Kristopher Nichols
January 16, 2017

"He's very important but it was the team who won [against Athletic Bilbao in the previous round]", he said.

Las Palmas were still a threat though and Boateng picked up a yellow card in the 55th minute for a weird flying handball as the former AC Milan midfielder desperately tried to get his team back in the match.

Bartomeu was speaking after Saturday's emphatic 5-0 victory over Las Palmas, a game in which the Argentine scored.

Suarez grabbed his second with a cool finish five minutes later before Arda Turan followed up on the rebound from the Uruguayan's saved effort to make it three goals in seven second-half minutes.

Suarez opened the scoring on 14 minutes following a low cross from Andre Gomes. Rafinha also went close after a quick break, although the Brazilian perhaps should have tried to play a pass, rather than go for glory.

That soon changed when Messi tapped in in the 52nd minute after a poor mistake from Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas.

Despite resting players such as Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Neymar, Barcelona controlled the first half and stifled any attempts from Las Palmas to play their usual passing game.

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The pair have already played twice this season with Granada winning the first leg of their King's Cup tie 1-0 at home and Osasuna claiming the return leg 2-0.

The visitors started the second half well, with Kevin-Prince Boateng providing most of the danger and almost testing goalkeeper Marc-Ander ter Stegen for the first time.

Two minutes later, Suarez broke through again only to be denied a hat-trick by Varas, but Turan was quickest to react to the rebound and slotted home past two despairing defenders.

Barcelona managed to put a struggling start to 2017 behind them by beating Athletic on Wednesday to secure qualification to the quarter finals of the Copa del Rey thanks to goals from Suarez, Messi and Neymar.

Aleix Vidal, who was frozen out by Barcelona boss Luis Enrique for much of the season, arrived late to score their fifth in the dying minutes.

Messi has scored 12 times in his last 11 matches, but none of his goals with Barcelona this season had come from free kicks.

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