London, Aug 25 ANI | 4 months ago

Argentine striker Lionel Messi scored twice as 10-man Barcelona claimed an easy victory over Elche in Luis Enrique's first La Liga match in charge.

Debutant Munir and Andres Iniesta hit the bar for the hosts before Messi drilled in low from an angle. Seconds later Javier Mascherano was sent off for a professional foul on Garry Rodrigues, but Munir doubled the lead with a chip soon after the break.

Messi found the net for the second time after beating three defenders. The Argentine was on the losing side in the World Cup final against Germany in July but, despite only playing one pre-season friendly, looked refreshed and ready to play a key role in a new-look Barca's title assault, The BBC reported.

Former Barcelona midfielder Enrique replaced Tata Martino as manager in the summer, after the Argentine presided over the club's first season without a major trophy since 2007-08.

Enrique has been busy in the transfer market, including signing Luis Suarez from Liverpool, although the Uruguayan is not available after being banned for four months for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.

The new manager has also brought in Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla for 18 million pounds and Thomas Vermaelen from Arsenal for 15 million pounds in an attempt to freshen up the squad while Barca's FIFA-imposed transfer ban was still suspended.

Enrique handed debuts to Rakitic, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, centre-back Jeremy Mathieu and young attackers Munir and Rafinha.

Forward Munir, who is a graduate from Barcelona B, almost made an explosive introduction as he fired a fierce shot against the upright after a neat turn on 20 minutes, before Andres Iniesta's 20-yard strike followed suit, the report added.

(Posted on 26-08-2014)

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