Koeman irked VAR denied Messi a goal in Barca's thrashing of Alaves

By Sports Desk February 13, 2021

Ronald Koeman felt Lionel Messi was incorrectly denied a goal by VAR in Barcelona's 5-1 victory over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

After Francisco Trincao's opener at the end of a 35-pass move, Messi put the ball in the back of the net after Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco denied Antoine Griezmann in a one-on-one.

However, Griezmann was deemed to have been offside when played in by Sergio Busquets and the goal was disallowed, with referee Jorge Figueroa Vazquez warning Koeman about his remonstrations on the touchline.

Messi, who equalled Xavi's record of 505 LaLiga appearances for Barca, got on the scoresheet with a fine strike on the stroke of half-time, but Luis Rioja pulled Alaves back into the game in the 57th minute.

Trincao doubled his tally in the 74th minute and Messi fired a stunning 25-yard effort into the top-left corner 83 seconds later, with Junior Firpo wrapping up the win in the 80th minute.

Despite the result, Koeman was still irked by the decision to take away a goal from Messi, who now has 12 in 11 LaLiga appearances against Alaves – no player has scored more against them in the competition's history.

"I'd better not talk about VAR anymore. You have to have a magnifying glass to see whether or not it is offside," said Koeman.

"I have seen the image several times and for me it is not offside."

Having lost the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final against Sevilla 2-0 in midweek, Barca getting back on track ahead of the opening match in their Champions League last-16 tie with Paris Saint-Germain was a boost for Koeman.

"The team is doing well. We are confident we can win the tie, knowing that we play against a strong block," said Koeman, whose side have won six straight LaLiga games.

"They have injuries, but so do we. The tie is even. We have to do well to progress. We are in a good moment, we have a good winning streak. We are confident."

Messi's two goals were scored from outside the box, making it just the seventh time he has done that in a LaLiga game and the first since a clash with Real Mallorca in December 2019.

Koeman said: "Messi is very important. He is in a fantastic moment. We know that he is decisive – he has been like this for a long time.

"He is very involved, he is happy, he is effective. With him, everything is easier. To win against PSG we need Leo and the rest of the players in their prime."

Alaves' goal came after an errant pass from 18-year-old midfielder Ilaix Moriba, who set up Trincao's first goal as he made his LaLiga debut alongside Riqui Puig and Sergio Busquets.

"I'll talk to him. He must know the pass cannot be made horizontally but he is young and will learn," said Koeman.

"Riqui Puig is improving a lot of things. He's always shown a lot of confidence and put a lot of energy in. He had a very good game."

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