Messi scores twice in return from 2-month layoff

The Associated Press

MADRID (AP) -- Lionel Messi scored twice in his return from a two-month layoff caused by a leg injury, helping Barcelona beat Getafe 4-0 Wednesday night in the first leg of the Copa del Rey's fifth round.

Sidelined since Nov. 10 by a torn left hamstring, Messi replaced Andres Iniesta in the 61st minute and scored in the 87th off a pass from Martin Montoya. He added his 16th goal in 17 games this season in stoppage time.

''I felt good in training and even if they checked me thoroughly, once you get on the field it's totally different,'' Messi said. ''Physically I felt good. I didn't feel any discomfort in my muscle.''

''I played through injury,'' Messi said of the buildup to his 59-day absence. ''But I did well to get through all of this. And now I'm motivated to make this a great year.''

The four-time FIFA player of the year has missed 12 matches this season because of leg injuries.

''Messi's career is like a movie script,'' Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino said. ''When you think he's down, he scores goals within just two or three minutes. His game was like a summary of his entire career here.''

Cesc Fabregas put Barcelona ahead in the seventh minute and converted a penalty kick in the 61st, giving him 11 goals this season.

The second leg of the total-goals series is at Getafe on Jan. 16.

Real Betis, last in the Spanish league, beat visiting Athletic Bilbao, second-division Alcorcon won 1-0 at home against Espanyol and Racing Santander tied Almeria in matchup that included player protests spectators storming the director's box.


MANCHESTER, England (AP) - Manchester City routed West Ham 6-0 in the first leg of their League Cup semifinal as Alvaro Negredo scored a hat trick, sending the Hammers to their second one-sided loss in four days.

Edin Dzeko scored twice and Yaya Toure once for City, trying to reach its first League Cup final since 1976.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has been under pressure, even before Sunday's 5-0 loss at second-tier Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup.

''It's not unique to us, is it?'' Allardyce said. ''Manchester City have done this to Tottenham and Manchester United. We knew they had to have an off night, and they didn't.''

Sunderland beat Manchester United 2-1 on Tuesday in the first leg of the other semifinal. The second legs are in two weeks.

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