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PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

In an astonishing game in La Coruña, Barça took three points after nine goals, a red card, a post, yet another exhibition from Messi and a series of gaffes that kept Deportivo in with a chance right until the end of an exhilarating 90 minutes. After leading 0-3 and then 2-4 at the break, Tito Vilanova’s side overcame Mascherano’s red card and some bad luck in their own box as the leaders came away with the points with a Messi hat trick to remain unbeaten so far this season.

Brilliant start

Barça came out on fire and were three up after just 17 minutes, with goals from Jordi Alba, Tello and Messi. The first, after just three minutes, came when Cesc set up Alba who showed his attacking instincts from the off and the second saw Tello skilfully leave two defenders flailing to fire low past Aranzubía, whilst Messi got the third with a powerful strike from the edge of the box after a clever one-two with Cesc. After just over a quarter of an hour the game looked to be done and dusted with Barça looking comfortably in control and finding acres of space in the hosts defence.

Deportivo hit back

With the home fans beginning to show their dissatisfaction, Deportivo hit back on 25 minutes when the ref reckoned Mascherano’s foul on Riki was in the box and Pizzi gratefully stepped up to score from the spot. That gave the hosts a boost and they upped their game and grabbed a second when Álex Bergantiños pounced on a loose ball in the box after a corner.

2-4 at the break

From 0-3 to 2-3 and Barça had to get their game back into gear if they wanted the points and that’s when two of the stars of the night –Cesc Fabregas and Leo Messi – linked up again to give the Argentinean his second of the game and re-establish the two goal cushion at the break.

Mascherano red card

However, things just got worse for Barça at the start of the second half, when Pizzi hit home a great free kick to make it 3-4 after just a minute and moments later Mascherano saw his second yellow. Tito Vilanova was quick to react though, bringing on Adriano to play alongside Song at the heart of defence, as well as Pedro and Xavi to try and wrest back control.

Excitement till the end

With Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta in the middle, Barça calmed the game down and Messi hit the woodwork before making it five after a brilliant jinking run. Surely the points were safe now? No – Jordi Alba ended up putting a goal through his own net and with ten minutes to go Deportivo threw everything – including keeper Aranzubía -at the Barça goal in search of the draw that wouldn’t come and Barça came away with the points after 90 minutes of incredible football.


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