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BARCA HIT FOUR, CITY AND GLADBACH IN SPOT OF BOTHER

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LIONEL MESSI scored on his return for Barcelona as they walloped Deportivo la Coruna 4-0 while Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach both squandered TWO penalty-kicks each as they dropped league points at home.

So, it was mixed fortunes for Celtic’s Champions League rivals at the weekend with the Bundesliga outfit hardly getting the send off they wanted before they play the Hoops at Parkhead on Wednesday night.

As well as missing two spot-kicks, Gladbach also passed up several opportunities in the 0-0 home draw against SV Hamburg.

Andre Hahn and skipper Lars Stindl both missed from 12 yards during a dismal display with Andre Schubert’s side toiling in front of goal without injured strikers Raffael and Josip Drmic, as well as Belgian playmaker Thorgan Hazard.

And that’s good news for Brendan Rodgers ‘ men before their vital Group C tie in midweek. 

Hamburg were reduced to 10 men after just 25 minutes, but Gladbach couldn’t take advantage and were wasteful in attack.

It prompted jeers from the home support at the end who became increasingly frustrated with their team.

However, it was a different story in La Liga where Barca boss Luis Enrique hailed Messi’s goalscoring return in a 4-0 rout of Deportivo as the perfect preparation for their showdown with former coach Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Wednesday.

Messi netted with just his third touch after nearly a month out with a groin injury having come on just before the hour mark with Barca already 3-0 in front.

Enrique said: “It was a complete performance. We have Leo back and it took him no time to return to top form.

“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.”

Barca have had the better of City in the Champions League, winning all four clashes between the sides in the last 16 in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons.

However, Enrique insisted his midweek rivals will be a new and improved threat on the European stage under his former team-mate Guardiola.

He added: “It is a great way to prepare for a very attractive game for us against an opponent that is continuously improving, and will continue to do so based on what we have seen so far and because of the coach they have.”

Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne both had penalties saved by Martin Stekelenburg as the Premier League leaders were held 1-1 by Everton at the Etihad Stadium.

The Goodison Park outfit capitalised on their goalkeeper’s brilliance by taking the lead through Romelu Lukaku shortly after the hour mark.

Nolito equalised in the 72nd minute after coming off the bench before Steklenburg pushed a stunning late De Bruyne effort onto the post as Guardiola lost his 100 per cent home record as City manager.

Despite dropping points for the second game in a row, City remain top of the Premier League – but only on goal difference ahead of Arsenal.

Guardiola said: “I am not going to discuss the quality of penalties by Kevin and Sergio.

“You can practice penalties in training, but in training nobody is there. There is no pressure.

“I am not frustrated. Compliments to Everton for the way they defended. We improved a lot from the games against Celtic and Spurs. so we try to be optimistic about the future.”

 
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