Sports

Messi’s perfect tributes to Maradona

Lionel Messi honoured the great Diego Maradona in perfect fashion, scoring the final goal of a 4-0 rout of Osasuna before stripping off his Barcelona top to reveal a special tribute to Argentina’s late football idol.

Messi celebrated his powerful strike from outside the box by taking off Barcelona’s blue-and-burgundy to bare the red-and-black of Maradona’s shirt from his stint at the Argentine club, Newell’s Old Boys.

Messi, who played for Newells himself as a youngster, then blew a kiss with both hands to the sky as he looked up.

Messi played at the Rosario club before he joined Barcelona at age 13. Maradona played five matches for Newell in 1994 near the end of his glorious playing career that made him a legend in his home country.

Messi had kept his head bowed during the minute of silence before kickoff at the empty Camp Nou for Maradona, who died of a heart attack on Wednesday at age 60.

Maradona was also a hero at Barcelona, having played there from 1982-84.

Messi put on a fine display after being rested for the midweek Champions League fixture in Kiev and was able to pay tribute to Maradona with his goal, which saw him dart away from a defender before firing home from outside the box.

Martin Braithwaite, Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho also scored for Barcelona on an emotional day.

“For me, it was a great moment in every way,” said Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman.

“First, for the goal that Leo scored and then for the gesture he had for the death of Diego Maradona. He had surely been thinking of what he would do.

The Catalans have started the season poorly but hit form this week with an emphatic 4-0 win at Dinamo Kiev before matching the scoreline at Camp Nou against Osasuna.

Griezmann scored in both matches, the first time he has netted in consecutive games since signing for Barcelona from Atletico Madrid in 2019.

Both Griezmann and Coutinho, the club record signing, have struggled to hit top form at Barcelona but impressed in this victory.

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