Sport

Was this Messi pass-penalty disrespectful?

La Liga is proving so simple for Barcelona that it seems they're resorting to tricks and outlandish moves just to keep themselves interested.

Barca's most recent game against Celta Vigo, which ended in a 6-1 win for the Catalan giants, saw Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez combine for an audacious pass-penalty move, with Messi feigning to shoot before sidefooting it into the path of the onrushing Suarez who passed the ball past the stricken goalkeeper Sergio, who fell for the dummy like everyone else.

The goal came with Barcelona already 3-1 up, and gave Suarez his hat-trick, taking his tally to 23 in 22 league games. Had Messi scored, it would have been his 300th goal in La Liga.

The incident sparked a flurry of debate with some wondering whether it would count as a missed penalty - football statisticians Opta confirmed that it would count as both a penalty miss and an assist. Meanwhile, Neymar claimed that the pass was actually meant for him, as that was how they had practiced it in training.

Others however, were quick to condemn the move as disrespectful to the opposition, and to the league. In addition, the officials, presumably as shocked as the rest of us, missed the fact that Suarez was actually encroaching in the penalty area when the kick was taken, so it should not have counted.

Barca coach Luis Enrique defended the play, saying "There will be those who like it and those who don't. As well as winning titles, here we try to entertain people and win in a spectacular and sporting manner. You can take a penalty like that, it's legal and there's a Cruyff penalty we all know."

Former Barcelona coach Johann Cruyff, currently battling lung cancer, laid on a ball for Martin Olsen to score in a match in 1982 and there had been rumours that the Messi effort was a tribute to him as he fights the disease. 

Still, no matter the merits of that penalty, at least they performed it with greater success than Arsenal did in 2005 (and didn't have to put up with Danny Mills screaming abuse at them afterwards).

As if to prove how bored they were at the ease of their victory, just before the penalty, Neymar delivered an audacious rainbow flick to take the ball over his opponent.

Barca are now unbeaten in 29 games in all competitions - can someone hurry up and give these guys a decent game?