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Returning Messi on target for Barcelona

AAP logoAAP 15/10/2016 Richard Martin

Lionel Messi scored within three minutes of returning to action for the first time in over three weeks to help fire La Liga champions Barcelona to a resounding 4-0 home win over Deportivo La Coruna.

Brazilian midfielder Rafinha put Barca ahead in the 21st minute on Saturday with the help of poor goalkeeping from Deportivo's German Lux and slid in the second in the 35th after the stopper failed to hold Gerard Pique's header.

Luis Suarez combined with Neymar to stretch Barca's lead two minutes before the break and substitute Messi latched on to a through ball from the Brazilian to stroke the ball high into the net in the 58th.

The Argentine maestro had replaced Sergio Busquets moments earlier to the delight of the Nou Camp faithful, also taking the captain's armband from his teammate.

Messi looked fully recovered from the groin injury he had sustained against Atletico Madrid last month and is expected to return to the starting lineup for Wednesday's mouth-watering Champions League game against former coach Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

The five-times world player of the year also helped tee up fellow substitute Paco Alcacer, but the former Valencia man's header was turned onto the post by Lux, who again denied the luckless striker, still without a goal for Barca, late on.

Earlier on Saturday, a late strike from Pablo Sarabia gave Sevilla a dramatic 3-2 win at Leganes to provisionally send them top of La Liga and end their 17-month spell without an away league win.

Franco Vazquez gave Jorge Sampaoli's side the lead in the 25th minute and they looked well on their way to ending their barren spell on the road when Samir Nasri doubled the lead in the 58th from close range.

A familiar feeling would have gripped Sevilla when goals from David Timor and Alexander Szymanowski in the space of three minutes put the home side level,

But Sarabia smashed in from outside the area with five minutes remaining to earn them a first away win since beating Malaga in May 2015.

Sevilla are provisionally top of the standings on 17 points, one ahead of Barcelona.

In the later game, Belgian midfielder Yannick Carrasco notched a hat trick in Atletico Madrid's 7-1 of Granada, who opened the scoring.

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