Three-goal Messi wows 12,000 fans in training return

The Argentina international looked like he had never been away after featuring in a special training session to mark his comeback from injury
Lionel Messi signalled his return from a hamstring injury by wowing a crowd of over 12,000 spectators at an open training session held at Barcelona's Minie Estadi on Friday.

The Argentina international has been absent for over two months but marked the occasion with a hat-trick and an assist as his side, which included Neymar and also saw the return of goalkeeper Victor Valdes, lost 5-4 in the inter-squad friendly arranged by coach Gerardo Martino.

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Two first half goals from the four-time World Player of the Year saw his side reach the interval level at 2-2, before the 26-year-old completed his hat-trick to make it 3-2. After falling 4-3 behind, Messi then turned provider as Andres Iniesta restored parity once more.

Cesc Fabregas would have the last say by netting the decsive ninth goal for the team wearing bibs, but there is no doubt that Messi's homecoming was the main attraction.

On target | The talisman fires in one of three goals in front of 12,000 fans

Even without their star man, Barcelona sit top of La Liga having dropped just five points all season as they prepare for this weekend's match with 14th placed Elche.

However, they only lead Atletico Madrid on goal difference and fans will be delighted at the news of Messi's return as the forward aims to be back for the showdown clash on January 11th.