Published: Sun, May 28, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Luis Enrique hails 'extraterrestrial' Messi

Luis Enrique hails 'extraterrestrial' Messi

After enduring the disappointment of losing La Liga despite finishing as top scorer, Messi was the inspiration for Barca once again with a mesmeric individual display to wrap the season.

"He is extraordinary, an extraterrestrial", said Enrique of Messi.

"He is the number one as he shows in his performances and it has been a true pleasure".

The five-time World Player of the Year opened the scoring in the 30th minute as he exchanged passes with Neymar before curling a beaut into the bottom corner.

"There are mixed feelings", Alaves coach Mauricio Pellegrino said.

"He has the ability to create goals as well as score them with the precision of his passing".

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The Basques were roared on by the more enthusiastic support at a far from full Vicente Calderon in its last competitive fixture before Atletico Madrid move home next season.

Barcelona also cleared center backs Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano to play from short-term injuries. Neymar scored after a pass by Andre Gomes in the 45th and Alcacer added to the lead from inside the area after a great slalom run by Messi three minutes into stoppage time.

Paco Alcacer further stretched the Catalans' lead two minutes later killing off Alaves' hopes of a first trophy in their 96-year history and delivering Barca's 29th King's Cup, the ninth trophy of Luis Enrique's three-year tenure.

Luis Enrique, who made the surprising announcement in March that he was leaving Barcelona so he could get some rest, never lost a Copa del Rey home-and-away series since he took over the club, a run of 12 straight triumphs ahead of the final.

Messi's brilliant strike, his fifth goal in seven King's Cup finals, did not crush Alaves and they quickly drew level with the thunderbolt free kick from Theo, a loan signing from Atletico Madrid who is expected to join champions Real Madrid in the summer.

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