Messi scores two in Barca win

Barcelona eased to victory over Elche despite losing Javier Mascherano to a red card, Lionel Messi scoring twice to give Luis Enrique a winning start.

Teenage forward Munir caught the eye almost as much as Messi, scoring on his debut and being applauded off when he departed after 67 minutes.

Messi danced through the Elche defence for the game’s first goal, turning on the edge of the penalty area, darting into the box and finishing past Przemyslaw Tyton.

Almost straight from kick-off and Elche forward Garry Rodrigues got in behind the Barca defence, Javier Mascherano tripping the Dutchman and seeing red.

Munir netted immediately after half time and put daylight between the sides, latching on to an Ivan Rakitic pass.

Messi doubled up in the second half, Barca making light work of being a man down.

La Blaugrana struck the woodwork twice in the first half but didn’t fashion a glaring opportunity, Messi’s goal coming after the ball was turned over deep in the Elche half.

Enrique gave debuts to summer signings Claudio Bravo, Jeremy Mathieu and Rakitic, as well as Barca B starlet Munir.

Elche packed midfield with five men and sat deep, keeping players behind the ball and looking to frustrate the hosts.

A black cat interrupted proceedings in the first few minutes and the feline interloper spent more time in the home side’s half than any of the Elche players.

Barca dominated possession but created little of note – Munir came closest following a neat turn but his powerful drive struck the post and bounced clear. Iniesta followed suit just after with a thumping long-range effort.

Messi intervened shortly before the half time whistle but Elche received a numerical advantage shortly after, Mascherano shown a straight red card.

Any hope Elche had of getting back in the game was snuffed out almost right away, Munir converting Rakitic’s through ball in composed fashion.

Barca, hunting in packs, again won the ball back in a dangerous area and a neat exchange almost put Marc Bartra through one-on-one.

Messi added his second, Barca’s third, just past the hour, quick feet taking him away from the attendant Elche defenders and curling the ball into the far corner.

Pedro stung the palms of Tyton and Messi was denied by the sprawling goalkeeper but Barca declared on three, a comfortable win despite the dismissal of Mascherano thanks to the contribution of Messi and Munir.

Barcelona 3-0 Elche

Messi 42, Munir 47, Messi 64, Mascherano s/o 43

Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Mascherano, Mathieu, Alba; Rakitic, Busquests, Iniesta (Sergi 78); Rafinha (Bartra 46), Messi, Munir (Pedro 67)

Elche: Tyton; Damian, Lomban, Pelegrin, Albacar; Mosquera, Pasalic (Adrian 81), Rodrigues, J.Angel (Alvaro 54), Jonathas; Coro (Fajr 66)

Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes

Tags Javier Mascherano Lionel Messi Luis Enrique