Barcelona: Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez combined to score one of the classiest penalties in recent times as Messi passed the ball into Suarez’s path for the Uruguayan to complete his hat-trick in a 6-1 rout of Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Barca were already leading 3-1 when Messi — who has missed 17 of 83 penalties in his career — was mowed down inside the area after an outrageous piece of skill.
However, instead of handing the spot-kick to Suarez, Messi went one better by rolling the ball into the path of the onrushing Uruguyan striker to slot home.
The goal brought back memories of another Barca legend Johan Cruyff when he and Jesper Olsen played a one-two for the Dutchman to score when playing for Ajax against Helmond Sport in 1982.
French duo Thierry Henry and Robert Pires tried a similar trick without success as they botched a penalty for Arsenal against Manchester City in 2005.
Spanish sports daily AS quickly christened the move as the “penalty of the century.”
And Barca defender Jordi Alba admitted the South American duo had caught even their teammates by surprise.
“Leo always invents things and it was perfect,” said the Spanish international.
“We hadn’t seen it in any training session, we didn’t know anything.”
Yet, some sections of the Spanish media also claimed Barca’s creativity boarded on a lack of respect for their opponents.
“We all remember Cruyff’s goal,” said Barca boss Luis Enrique.
“I wouldn’t dare to do it because I would tread on the ball.
“Some will like it, some won’t, but as Barca players and members of the club, on top of winning titles we try to enjoy our football in a spectacular way.”
Thanks to the win, Barcelona maintained their grip on the Spanish title.
Atletico Madrid remain three points behind as they were 1-0 winners at Getafe with Fernando Torres scoring a first-minute goal.
Real Madrid slipped down to third, a further point adrift of Barca, who also have a game in hand on both clubs from the capital.
Atletico then held on to record their 15th clean sheet in 24 Liga games this season to leapfrog Real Madrid back into second place.
However, Diego Simeone’s men did suffer a big injury blow when Carrasco hobbled off with ankle ligament damage early in the second period.
The Belgian international is now a major doubt for both Atletico’s trips to PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League last-16 next week and the Madrid derby in a fortnight.
Elsewhere, Sevilla closed the gap on Villarreal in the battle for the fourth Champions League place to eight points with a 2-0 win over relegation threatened Las Palmas.