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Messi fires Barcelona on return from injury

QUICKSILVER Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona beat Getafe 2-0 last night and qualified 6-0 on aggregate for the King's Cup quarter-finals, but they lost Neymar to injury midway through the first half.

Messi and Neymar were returning to the starting lineup, but the Brazil forward lasted less than 25 minutes as he twisted his ankle, turning awkwardly by the touchline and was taken away on a stretcher.

However, after the match Barca coach Gerardo Martino told reporters: "The injury to Neymar isn't as serious as it seemed and he'll be back playing soon."

It was Argentina captain Messi's first start since he injured his hamstring last November and the diminutive forward looked sharp in front of goal.

After slotting home his first in the run-up to half-time, Messie struck again after the break following a trademark mazy run when he hurdled several challenges and a dive by goalkeeper Jordi Codina before tucking the ball into the net.

Midfielder Xavi came on as a second half substitute for a landmark 700th appearance for Barcelona.

Real Sociedad also progressed with a 1-0 win at Villarreal, having drawn 0-0 in the first leg of their last 16 tie.





PAUL LAMBERT is still keen to bring Wes Hoolahan to Aston Villa, even though Norwich City have insisted that the Ireland international is not for sale.

Norwich have knocked back any attempt by Villa to bring the £1.5million-rated midfielder to Villa Park, the Canaraies maintaining that they do not want to sell Hoolahan, but Lambert has not given up on the move.

"I don't know. As I said before, he's their player," said Lambert when asked if a deal for Hoolahan could be done.

"There's no point talking about somebody else's player. You look at other things and other options and, if you can do it, you look to do it.

"There are a few No 10s I looked at, as I call them, and some we just can't do. There's other positions I'd like to strengthen. We're trying to bring in a couple.

"If we can do it, then great, but this window is so difficult to deal with. You just can't bring in people for the sake of it. It really is a tough window to do anything," added Lambert.