MADRID (AFP) – Barcelona boss Luis Enrique lauded the quality of strike duo Lionel Messi and Neymar after both were on target as the Catalans maintained their 100 percent start to the La Liga season with a 5-0 win at Levante.
Messi fired a first-half penalty off target, but teed up Neymar and Sandro Ramirez to take his tally of assists to six in just five games this season and finally got his goal as he rounded off the scoring 18 minutes from time.
“With Leo Messi we are talking about a unique, special player. His teammates know well that when he has the ball, he can not only beat players but assist them magnificently,” said Enrique.
“I love that the players find these conditions amongst themselves and take advantage of Leo’s quality in this case.
“Today he assisted in a number of goals in a spectacular way and also scored. I think it was a complete game from everyone.”
Neymar’s opener was reminiscent of his first goal in the 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao last weekend as his pace was too much for the Levante defence and the Brazilian’s run was expertly picked out by Messi’s ball over the top.
“He has the quality to receive the ball to feet and he has the quality to attack spaces,” added Enrique.
“Every striker has to look for that variety and I am not just speaking about Neymar, but I thought the movement of Sandro, Pedro (Rodriguez) and Leo was good. I could speak about the whole team and the offensive and defensive work they did.”
The only negative point of the evening for Barca came early in the second-half as Neymar suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Sandro despite appearing to want to continue.
Enrique insisted he had been extra cautious as the 22-year-old has suffered a series of ankle problems in his time at Barca, including a sprain in his left ankle which ruled him out of the season opener against Elche last month.
And he is hopeful Neymar will be available for their midweek trip to Malaga on Wednesday.
“He suffered a sprained ankle recently and therefore we decided to take him off.
“The doctors will analyse it. It is normal when the player sprains his ankle he gets a fright and asks for the change.
“We hope it won’t be anything important but there was nothing strange in the substitution.”