Diego Maradona has been hailed as a "poet and a great champion" by Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church.

Maradona passed away at the age of 60 in November having suffered heart failure.

The former Argentina star is considered as one of the world's greatest ever players, having led his country to World Cup glory in 1986 and taken Napoli from Serie A also-rans to one of Italy's dominant forces.

Maradona had his off-field issues, including drug abuse and doping scandals, but Pope Francis, who met Maradona in 2014, praised the impact his compatriot had.

"I met Diego Armando Maradona during a Match for Peace in 2014: I remember with pleasure everything that Diego did for Scholas Occurrentes, the foundation that takes care of the needy all over the world," The Pope told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"On the pitch he was a poet and a great champion who gave joy to millions of people, in Argentina as in Naples. He was also a very fragile man."

Pope Francis also recalled his memories of the 1986 World Cup, with Maradona starring in Mexico, finishing with five goals and assisting Argentina's winner in the final.

"I have a personal memory linked to the 1986 World Cup, the one that Argentina won thanks to Maradona," Pope Francis continued.

"I was in Frankfurt; it was a difficult time for me, I was studying the language and collecting material for my thesis.

"I hadn't been able to see the World Cup final and I only learned the next day of Argentina's victory over Germany, when a Japanese boy wrote 'Viva l'Argentina' on the blackboard during a German lesson.

"I remember it, personally, as the victory of loneliness because I had no one with whom to share the joy of that sporting victory: loneliness makes you feel alone, while what makes joy beautiful is being able to share it.

"When I was told of Maradona's death, I prayed for him and sent the family a rosary with a few personal words of comfort."

Cristiano Ronaldo said he was "honoured" to be included in France Football's All Time XI.

The French publication presented its all-time dream team on Monday, with Juventus superstar Ronaldo named alongside Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Pele and Diego Maradona – who died last month.

Brazil great Ronaldo, former Milan captain Paolo Maldini, Xavi, Bayern Munich legend Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthaus, Cafu and goalkeeper Lev Yashin completed the XI.

Reacting to his inclusion, five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo tweeted: "I'm very honoured to be part of France Football's All Time 11."

"What an amazing Dream Team... They all deserve my respect and admiration and I'm obviously proud to be amongst such extraordinary players. Thank you!"

Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid's record goalscorer – has won five Champions League titles, three Premier League trophies, Euro 2016 glory, two Serie A crowns and as many LaLiga triumphs to go with numerous other silverware.

Ronaldo celebrated his 100th Juventus appearance with a brace in Sunday's 3-1 Serie A win over Genoa.

Not only was Ronaldo making his 100th Juve appearance, he also became the first player to reach 400 wins across Europe's top five leagues this century.

Additionally, Ronaldo – who has netted 77 times since joining Juve in 2018 – reached 31 goals for the calendar year, making him the third Bianconeri player to reach this milestone in the top flight, and the first since Omar Sivori in 1961.

Serie A holders Juve face Atalanta on Wednesday, with the 35-year-old Ronaldo looking to add to his 10 league goals this term.

Kevin-Prince Boateng urged Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi to join Napoli as a tribute to club and Argentina great Diego Maradona.

Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died at the age of 60 after suffering heart failure last month.

Napoli renamed their stadium to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in honour of the 1986 World Cup winner, who guided the Serie A side to their only Scudetto triumphs in 1987 and 1990 after arriving from Barca in 1984.

Messi removed his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey emblazoned with Maradona's famous number 10 after scoring in last month's 4-0 LaLiga rout of Osasuna.

But former Barca team-mate Boateng wants six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi – who has been heavily linked to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain – to do more to pay tribute to his countryman.

"I often hear of the comparison between Messi and Maradona and therefore I'll make a proposal to Leo," Boateng, who now plays for Serie B outfit Monza alongside Mario Balotelli, told ESPN.

"He should go to Napoli after his contract with Barcelona expires. It would be great if he himself called [president Aurelio] De Laurentiis and said: 'I'm coming'.

"Even if they have retired the No 10 shirt, 'I would like to honour Maradona's No 10 and come and play for a year or two at Napoli', without thinking about money, just the heart.

"Maybe then he manages to win a championship and then it would be the apotheosis, a movie story.

"If I were him, I would think about it. By now, he has won everything at club level, closing in a legendary way would be incredible."

Watching Diego Maradona play was "the best thing in the world" for Cafu, who has described the late Argentina great as a genius.

The sporting world mourned the death of a legendary figure after Maradona died on November 25 at the age of 60.

He won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994 - including leading his country to World Cup glory in 1986 - and will forever be an icon at Napoli, having won the Serie A title twice while in Italy.

Cafu may have represented Brazil - Argentina's rivals - but is full of admiration for Maradona, whom he says sits on the same level as Pele when it comes to discussing the greatest of all time.

"He was one of the best ever, without any doubt," Cafu told Stats Perform News courtesy of Nissan.  

"There are only two best ever: Dieguito, as I called him, and Pele.  

"Football lost the magic of touching the ball. Dieguito cared for the football like you care for a child. He really joked with the football and the sport. 

"For us, fans and players, to watch him play was unbelievable, the best thing in the world. I remember a set-piece he took inside the box [against Juventus], he just caressed the ball and laid it in the goal. 

"Now our world is mourning not because we lost a player, but because we lost a football genius."

Pele himself described Maradona as a "true legend" in a heartfelt Instagram post following the news of his friend's passing last month.

"Many people loved to compare us all their lives. You were a genius that enchanted the world. A magician with the ball at his feet. A true legend. But above all that, for me, you will always be a great friend, with an even bigger heart," Pele wrote to accompany a picture of the pair.

"Today, I know that the world would be much better if we could compare each other less and start admiring each other more. So, I want to say that you are incomparable."

Napoli, meanwhile, now play at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, the name of the ground having been changed in honour of their former player.

Napoli's stadium has officially been renamed in honour of Diego Maradona, the Municipality of Naples announced on Friday. 

The sporting world was shaken last week when Argentina great Maradona – widely considered to be one of football's greatest ever players – died at the age of 60 after suffering heart failure.

A World Cup winner with Argentina, Maradona enjoyed stunning success in Naples, where he guided Napoli to unprecedented Serie A glory in 1986-87, and then again in 1989-90. The Partenopei are yet to add to their only two Scudetto honours.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said last week it would be "right" to rename Stadio San Paolo after the Argentinian and the Naples city council on Friday unanimously approved a resolution that will change its name to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

The change still needs to be authorised by the Prefect of the Province of Naples, but that is expected to be a formality.

"With a resolution approved today, the stadium was named after Diego Armando Maradona," the Municipality said in a statement.

"Shortly before the executive committee meeting, the advisory commission for city toponymy had approved the proposal of the mayor, the councillor for toponymy Alessandra Clemente and the city council, naming the Stadio San Paolo after Diego Armando Maradona with the name Stadio Diego Armando Maradona."

Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

He started his career with Argentinos Juniors, before joining Boca Juniors and going on to play for Barcelona, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys, as well as Napoli, before returning to La Bombonera in 1995.

Maradona also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico before being appointed head coach by Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata last year.

He remained Gimnasia coach until his death.

Pele believes the death of Diego Maradona should teach the world to "admire each other more" and spread a little more love.

The sporting world was shaken last week when Argentina great Maradona died at the age of 60 after suffering heart failure.

Former Brazil superstar Pele, who is now 80, intimated he was tired of being compared to Maradona, with the South American pair having been widely regarded for many years as the greatest players of all time.

The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have entered that conversation in recent times, but Pele says looking for winners during such debates can stifle appreciation levels.

In a new tribute to Maradona, Pele wrote: "Many people loved to compare us all their lives. You were a genius that enchanted the world. A magician with the ball at his feet. A true legend. But above all that, for me, you will always be a great friend, with an even bigger heart.

"Today, I know that the world would be much better if we could compare each other less and start admiring each other more. So, I want to say that you are incomparable."

The mercurial Maradona won 91 caps for his country between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

Pele was sorry he did not have a chance to say goodbye to Maradona in person, but he said the 1986 World Cup winner had managed to be influential, even in death.

In his message, posted to Instagram, Pele added: "Your trajectory was marked by honesty. And in your unique and particular way, you taught us that we have to love and say 'I love you' a lot more often. Your quick departure didn't let me say it to you, so I will just write: I love you, Diego."

He illustrated their friendship with a series of photographs, dating back decades, beginning with an early encounter when a young Maradona watches Pele play guitar.

"My great friend, thank you very much for our entire journey," Pele wrote. "One day, in heaven, we will play together on the same team. And it will be the first time that I raise my fist in the air in triumph on the pitch without celebrating a goal. It will be because I can finally embrace you again."

Lionel Messi should have the yellow card he was shown for his on-pitch tribute to Diego Maradona rescinded, according to Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman.

Former Barca and Argentina great Maradona died last week at the age of 60 and was honoured before all LaLiga matches over the weekend.

Messi scored his side's fourth goal in fine style during Sunday's 4-0 home win over Osasuna.

Afterwards, he removed his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey emblazoned with Maradona's famous number 10.

He then pointedly saluted the sky in honour of his compatriot, who spent a season towards the end of his career with Newell's - the club where Messi began his youth career.

Following the victory, Koeman told the media how impressed he was both with his captain's finish and with the way he chose to pay his respects to his compatriot.

The yellow card shown to Messi, which regulations state will come with a €3,000 fine for Barca, has attracted attention after the match and Koeman believes it should be overturned.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's away Champions League match against Ferencvaros, for which Messi will be rested, Koeman said: "We know that there is a rule [relating to the award of] the yellow card.

"But we also know that it was his dedication to Maradona when he took off his shirt. 

"It's not my decision, but for me I would take it off."

Barca are hopeful the yellow card decision will be changed.

According to Sport, they will use the precedent of Sergio Ramos having a booking overturned on sentimental grounds in 2007 after he paid tribute to Sevilla star Antonio Puerta to argue their case.

Barcelona have won all of their previous five competitive meetings with Hungarian sides and dominated the Camp Nou fixture against Ferencvaros in a 5-1 triumph last month.

Messi opened the scoring with a penalty in that game and also laid on a late assist for Ousmane Dembele.

However, he will now sit out of a second straight Champions League match, having also been rested for the 4-0 win over Dynamo Kiev last time out in the competition.

Barca have fared surprisingly well without Messi, winning eight of their last nine Champions League games that he missed and drawing the other since losing to Ajax in 2013, according to Opta statistics.

The club are looking to win each of their first five UEFA Champions League group stage games for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.

Boca Juniors made a moving tribute to the daughter of club legend Diego Maradona during their 2-0 win over another of his former sides Newell's Old Boys on Sunday.

Argentina great Maradona, regarded by many as the best footballer ever, died at the age of 60 last Wednesday.

Such was his influence on the sport, homage has been paid across the world – from compatriot Lionel Messi revealing a Newell's shirt during a goal celebration earlier in the day, to Napoli confirming plans to rename their stadium Stadio Diego Armando Maradona and revealing an Argentina-inspired fourth kit in their weekend win over Roma.

Boca, where Maradona spent two spells, had their Copa Libertadores clash with Internacional postponed just a few hours after the 1986 World Cup winner died, meaning the visit of Newell's to a mostly empty La Bombonera was their first game since his passing.

Colombia international Edwin Cardona opened the scoring with a free-kick, before the team ran over to the sidelines and produced a Maradona jersey, laid it on the floor and applauded in front of the private box where his visibly emotional daughter Dalma was watching on.

Boca coach Miguel Angel Russo, a former Argentina team-mate of Maradona, said after the game: "I knew it was going to be an uphill struggle. The phrase I used was that, to pay homage to the best in the world, you have to play well and that Boca needed to win.

"It was the best way to pay homage to him, to play this beautiful sport well that he played to an incomparably high level.

"We got through it in the best way. I am happy for the victory. The day has been covered by a blanket because of what Diego Maradona was as a player and person."

Every Boca player wore Maradona's name on the back of their jersey throughout the match and defender Carlos Izquierdoz could not help but feel humbled.

Nevertheless, he believed the team acted responsibly with respect to donning the name of one his country's most famous players.

"The truth is that wearing a name like that on my shirt gave me a little embarrassment, so to speak," he told FOX Sports.

"We tried to do it responsibly. I'm happy for tributes that have been paid to him everywhere. We were able to win, to show that we wanted to play – the best tribute was to give his family a win.

"They were special moments. The truth is that all this generates emotion, remembering such an emblematic player who represented so much for Argentine footballer, the country.

"He always put the flag on his shoulders. He deserved recognition."

Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne said Diego Maradona's death hurts as the city suffers after the Serie A side donned Argentina-style shirts to honour the club great in their 4-0 rout of rivals Roma.

Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player who led Napoli to their only Scudetto honours in 1987 and 1990 – died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

After beating Rijeka in the Europa League on Thursday, Napoli played their first Serie A match since Maradona's passing on Sunday and it was an emotional occasion at the Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli sported a Maradona-themed jersey, which consisted of light blue and white stripes instead of the iconic all-blue shirt and it proved an inspirational strip as the Partenopei equalled their largest margin of victory against Roma in Serie A, having also routed the capital club 4-0 in 1980 and 1971.

Insigne – born and bred in Naples – opened the scoring with a free-kick on the half-hour mark before reaching for a Maradona shirt and kissing it as he celebrated.

Fabian Ruiz, Napoli's all-time leading goalscorer Dries Mertens and Matteo Politano were also on target.

"The atmosphere certainly gave us extra motivation, as we wanted to pay homage to our idol," Insigne, the only player since 2012-13 to score at least one goal and assist at least one in each of the past nine seasons, told Sky Sport Italia.

"It hurts and we cared more than ever tonight to put in a great performance for him and the city that is suffering."

Napoli moved up to fifth position in Serie A, six points adrift of unbeaten leaders Milan.

Gennaro Gattuso also earned his 50th career victory as a head coach in the Italian top flight, while becoming the first Napoli boss to win his first two Serie A encounters against Roma.

"There is a sense of sadness, but at this moment I think the city must also show common sense," Gattuso said. "I am seeing too many people going around without their masks.

"Maradona is a legend, everyone knows that, and I understand the desire to express that affection, but I hope from tomorrow the city will get back to being sensible, or we'll all pay the consequences later."

Napoli donned Argentina-style shirts as a tribute to Diego Maradona and thrashed Roma 4-0 on Sunday, in their first Serie A match since the death of the club's greatest player.

The light blue and white stripes were a departure from the team's usual all-blue jersey, and the Naples giants rose to the occasion to honour the player who helped the club win two Serie A titles.

Maradona, one of football's all-time greats, died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Although head coach of Argentinian side Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata at the time of his death, Maradona was more renowned for his playing career, during which he inspired his country to 1986 World Cup success and played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys.

As well as league title successes in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons, Maradona also helped Napoli win a Coppa Italia and a UEFA Cup crown, spending the peak years of his club career in Italy.

Napoli's players posed before the game at their Stadio San Paolo with a shirt bearing Maradona's name and his famous number 10, before goals from captain Lorenzo Insigne, Fabian Ruiz, all-time leading scorer Dries Mertens and Matteo Politano earned a sixth win in nine games this season.

Naples-born Insigne – the only player since 2012-13 to score at least one goal and assist at least one in each of the last nine seasons – reached for a Maradona shirt after scoring the opener, making a point of kissing it as he showed his emotion.

The three points nudged Napoli up to fifth position in Serie A – six points adrift of leaders Milan – after equalling their record of goals scored against Roma in a Serie A match, having also routed the capital club 4-0 in 1980 and 1971.

Gennaro Gattuso also earned his 50th career victory as a head coach, while becoming the first Napoli boss to win his first two Serie a encounters against Roma.

Napoli had earlier announced they and shirt manufacturers Kappa had been working on a Maradona-themed shirt for a year, in the hope the man who has remained an iconic figure in Naples would be able to see it.

That was not to be, but Napoli said the shirt would "have an even greater significance than initially intended".

The Roma game was Napoli's second fixture since Maradona's death. On Thursday, their players took to the pitch in jerseys emblazoned with Maradona's name and shirt number before beating Rijeka 2-0 in the Europa League.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis indicated in the wake of Maradona's death that the Stadio San Paolo would be renamed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Diego Maradona's doctor insists he has "nothing to hide" and is "proud" of the treatment he administered to the late football star.

Police in Buenos Aires were sent to the home and private clinic of Leopoldo Luque and collected files as prosecutors launched an investigation into the circumstances around Maradona's death.

The 60-year-old Argentina and Napoli great died of a reported heart attack at his home this week, where he was recuperating following successful surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain earlier in November.

Dr Luque told reporters on Sunday he had the backing of his professional body, the Argentine Society of Neurosurgery.

He also detailed how Maradona, who struggled with alcohol and drug dependency issues, took the decision to undertake his rehabilitation from home.

"We were all gathered to see the best for Diego: the doctors, myself, his family. Nothing could be done without his will," Dr Luque said.

"We sought to put together a containment scheme for the issue of the pills he was taking and to control alcohol consumption.

"There were no medical criteria [to keep Maradona in hospital]. We could have taken him to a rehabilitation centre, but we needed Diego's okay. It was his decision.

"Here there are no decisions, there are medical criteria. When you operate on a patient, the discharge criteria depend on the patient. There wasn't a doctor error.

"He had a heart problem that can happen in a patient like him. Everything possible was done to reduce that chance, but you cannot block the possibility.

"I had the full endorsement of the Argentine Society of Neurosurgery that Diego needed the surgery. Six doctors evaluated him. Death had nothing to do with [the surgery]."

Dr Luque added: "He was discharged after surgery. The ideal thing would have been for him to undergo rehabilitation, but he did not want to. We managed to get a nurse to accompany him, but he had the medical discharge.

"We tried to keep him in the clinic, but it is not a rehab centre. I extended the hospitalisation as long as I could.

"I am at the disposal of the justice department. With Diego, I did the best I could. I am proud of what I did. I have nothing to hide."

Maradona's lawyer Matias Morla said on Thursday he would ask for a full investigation into his client's death, claiming in a Twitter post that a wait of more than half an hour for an ambulance was tantamount to "criminal idiocy".

There has been a huge, nationwide outpouring of sympathy for the much-loved Maradona following the death of the man who inimitably captained Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986.

On Sunday, Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi paid tribute to his compatriot after he scored in a 4-0 LaLiga win over Osasuna.

 

I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week through different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT. 

) Nicholas Pooran - one for the future.    

West Indies have provided Nicholas Pooran with the opportunity to prove that he is worthy of being part of the Test squad by including him in a 14-man 'A' squad to play a pair of first-class matches in New Zealand next month.

This, I feel is a good move.

The 25-year-old Trinidadian has played well in the shorter formats to the extent that many fans and pundits alike have suggested that he should considered for Test selection. There are others, however, who believe he should not be included because of his limited participation in first-class cricket in that he has only played three games for Trinidad and Tobago back in 2014.

My question is, how will we know unless he tries?

Sometimes an opportunity is all you need. The chance Pooran is now being given will allow selectors to determine if he has what it takes. Cricket West Indies lead selector Roger Harper believes the player deserves an opportunity.

"This series will give our players an opportunity to play first-class cricket against foreign opposition as well as experience different conditions here in New Zealand. It will also help to keep them in the frame should the need for replacements for the test team arise as we will have players who have been playing red-ball cricket and in form to consider."

There are two four-day matches set for December 3 in Mount Maunganui and December 11 in Nelson.

 

  1. Ineffective bowling cost the Windies

West Indies were outplayed by New Zealand and lost by 72 runs in the second T20 International on Sunday at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips cracked a 51-ball century, the quickest in T20Is by a New Zealander as the home side took a winning 2-0 lead. 

The West Indies struggled to make a mark in the first two matches of the series. In the first match, there were a combination of errors with the bat and ball.  Despite the heroics of skipper Kieron Pollard, who blasted 75 not out, the Windies lost five wickets for one run and needed Pollard’s brilliant knock to get them back into contention.

Wickets were also hard to come by as Keemo Paul went for 39 runs in three overs that included five costly no-balls. Kesrick Williams gave up 33 runs in two overs while Fabian Allen went for 32 runs in the 12 balls he was allowed.

 

In the second T20 international, Andre Fletcher looked good for the time he lasted but was run out on 20 having faced 14 deliveries. Brandon King failed miserably and was dismissed for duck. West Indies' biggest hopes in the middle order Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran failed to fire.

How many times do we expect the Windies captain to carry the side? Skipper Kieron Pollard top-scored again for the Windies with his 15-ball 28, which included three consecutive sixes off Mitchell Santner but it was not enough.

As was the case in the first match, none of the Windies bowlers made an impact. Instead of gaining momentum when Guptill and Seifert were dismissed they literally dropped the ball. There were a number of misfields and a general lack of discipline from the bowlers.  Fast bowler Keemo Paul conceded 64 runs in four overs and Sheldon Cottrell went for 39 runs.  

The final T20 international will be held at Mount Maunganui on Monday, before a two-Test series begins in Hamilton on December 3.

  

  1. The world rocked by the passing of Diego Maradona. RIP Sir.

 On Sunday, Lionel Messi paid an emotional tribute to Diego Maradona by revealing a Newell's Old Boys shirt after scoring for Barcelona in their 4-0 win over Osasuna. The forward looked emotional during the minute’s applause for Maradona, who died at the age of 60 on Wednesday after a heart attack.

Messi, his fellow Argentine, alongside Pele and Cristiana Ronaldo best summed up the passing of the legend when they said "He is gone, but he will be with us for eternity."

Without a doubt, Maradona will be remembered for his many achievements on the field. He won titles in three different countries. He took Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup. He delivered two league titles to the city of Naples, something most felt was impossible. However, the Argentine’s impact off the field is what touched people the most.

He was vulnerable and showed that openly as he lived a life of excess in the public eye.  He immersed himself in whatever he did and took on the authorities when they failed to represent what he stood for. He will be remembered for his work on and off the field. Rest in peace, Sir. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lionel Messi's goal and his celebration in honour of Diego Maradona were "great in every sense", according to Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman.

Messi scored in fine style to cap a 4-0 victory over Osasuna at Camp Nou on Sunday, a game that was preceded by a tribute to former Barca star Maradona, who died on Wednesday.

Having found the net, Messi removed his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey bearing Maradona's famous number 10. The 1986 World Cup winner spent a season at the club, where Messi was later a youth player, towards the end of his career.

Koeman was impressed both with his captain's finish and with the way he chose to pay his respects to his Argentine compatriot.

"These are the things of a great player: first because of the play and the goal, and second because of the gesture towards Maradona. It was something really great in every sense," Koeman said.

"I didn't know Leo was going to do that celebration."

Antoine Griezmann was arguably Barca's star performer against Osasuna, assisting Philippe Coutinho's goal after having scored a stunning volley three minutes before half-time.

The France international at last appears to be finding his feet for the Catalans, having been directly involved in six goals in his past six matches after contributing to just one in the previous 20.

"Antoine looked very good today," said Koeman. "From his position, he played with a lot of freedom, he gave an assist and scored a great goal. This is the player we want.

"I don't think he has changed. He always worked hard to have this opportunity, but he scored a great goal and now it seems he feels freer on the pitch and that's a positive."

The opening goal was scored by Martin Braithwaite, who has scored in consecutive matches for the first time since January for Leganes and has contributed three goals and one assist in his most recent four games.

"We needed more of a number nine today to fix the centre-backs and to be able to find more space behind a team that closes up at the back," Koeman said.

"Martin is working very well. We know the team works well in defence, they played with five at the back, and we had to play with a high rhythm with the ball to look for goal."

The only sour note for Barca was the loss of defender Clement Lenglet to what looked like an ankle problem, with Koeman having already seen Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo succumb to injuries.

However, the coach hopes his remaining senior centre-back has not suffered anything serious.

"I have spoken with the doctor and it seems we will have to wait for tomorrow for tests, but it does not seem that serious," Koeman said.

"I don't know about Wednesday's game [against Ferencvaros in the Champions League] but I hope it's nothing major."

Lionel Messi paid tribute to Diego Maradona on Sunday with a goal celebration that came as a "beautiful surprise" to his Barcelona team-mates.

Former Barca and Argentina great Maradona died on Wednesday at the age of 60 and has been honoured before all LaLiga matches over the weekend.

Messi scored his side's fourth goal in the 4-0 win over Osasuna and afterwards removed his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey emblazoned with Maradona's famous number 10.

He then pointedly saluted the sky in honour of his compatriot, who spent a season at Newell's - the club where Messi began his youth career.

Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho each got a goal in Barca's comfortable victory, along with striker Martin Braithwaite, who opened the scoring in the first half.

They described afterwards how they were not aware of what Messi was planning on a moving day at Camp Nou, where Maradona played from 1982 to 1984.

"We lost Maradona, a global idol, we all miss him," Coutinho said.

"We didn't know what Messi had prepared to honour Maradona," added Griezmann. "It was a beautiful surprise."

Newell's responded through their English Twitter account, saying: "It's all about number 10. The best player in the world and his tribute to #D10S."

Barca's victory moved them into eighth in the table, for a few hours at least, nine points behind leaders Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid in second.

Antoine Griezmann starred and Lionel Messi paid tribute to Diego Maradona as Barcelona beat Osasuna 4-0 at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Ronald Koeman had called on his players to produce a performance befitting the former Barca and Argentina star, who died this week.

They duly delivered, Griezmann scoring the pick of the goals in a fine performance against a side who won 2-1 at this ground in July.

There were also goals from Martin Braithwaite, Philippe Coutinho and Messi, who honoured compatriot Maradona with his celebration after scoring the fourth.

A brilliant goal-line clearance from Unai Garcia stopped Coutinho from opening the scoring after Griezmann teed up the Brazilian.

The breakthrough eventually came in scrappy fashion. Messi's pass split the defence, Jordi Alba found Coutinho, Sergio Herrera saved his shot and Braithwaite's rebound, but the latter managed to bundle the ball over the line with Messi's help.

Ante Budimir turned past Marc-Andre ter Stegen after a brilliant double save by the keeper, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside against Oier Sanjurjo.

Barca doubled their lead just two minutes later, Griezmann walloping a volley past the motionless Herrera after Alba's cross had been cleared to the edge of the box.

Griezmann turned provider 11 minutes into the second half, teeing up Coutinho for a tap-in after good work from Braithwaite to win back possession in the Osasuna half.

A good outing for the Catalans was soured when they suffered another defensive injury, Clement Lenglet unable to continue after apparently taking damage to his ankle.

Roberto Torres rattled the post before Ousmane Dembele had a goal ruled out for offside, but Messi soon made it 4-0 with a fierce strike from the edge of the box, the Argentine then removing his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey emblazoned with the number 10.

What does it mean? Barca edge closer to leaders

Barca's victory moves them into seventh place, three points behind champions Real Madrid in fourth, with a game in hand.

They can take some confidence into coming league matches with Cadiz and Levante before the meeting with leaders Real Sociedad on December 16.

Osasuna are 15th, three points above the relegation places.

A turning point for Griezmann?

Griezmann seemed to vent months of frustration with his emphatic volley, but he had already looked Barca's brightest attacking player before then.

The France star hit the target with three of his four shots, completed more passes than any other forward (68) and looked, at last, to be enjoying himself.

Defensive worries abound

Any serious injury to Lenglet would leave Barca without a fit senior centre-back, with Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo all sidelined.

Osasuna offered scant attacking threat, with only three shots on target throughout, but there are tougher opponents to come in December.

What's next?

Barca, who have already qualified for the Champions League last 16, visit Ferencvaros on Wednesday before next Saturday's league trip to Cadiz. Osasuna have a week to prepare for a home game against Real Betis.

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