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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Reasons for Neymar being not Barcelona's penalty taker.

Neymar not Barcelona's penalty taker, Messi is - Luis Enrique
The coach says the South American duo must have spoken for the Brazilian to have struck - and missed - Wednesday's spot-kick against Villarreal in the Copa del Rey clash

Luis Enrique has stressed that Lionel Messi remains Barcelona's first-choice penalty taker, despite Neymar taking over spot-kick duties in their 3-1 Copa del Rey win over Villarreal on Wednesday.

Barca moved a step closer to their fourth Copa final in five years with a comfortable home success in the first leg of their semi-final.

Lionel Messi put the Catalans into a 41st-minute lead only for Villarreal's Manu Trigueros to stun a sparse Camp Nou with a brilliant effort from distance just after half-time.

Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique scored shortly afterwards to restore Barca's lead in an action-packed second half, though Enrique's side missed the chance to score a fourth as Neymar's penalty was saved by Sergio Asenjo.

"We make a list of penalty takers but they then decide," the Barca coach told reporters after the game when quizzed about Neymar's miss.

"Leo has always been our penalty taker and Neymar second. I assume they spoke and I had full confidence."

Gerard Pique picked up plenty of praise for his goalscoring performance and his coach thinks there are few defenders as good as the Spain international.

"Pique's performance was very good," Enrique said. "He is a vital player and I did not know that he has now scored five goals this season.

"Defensively, he is one of the best players at this level."

Villarreal host Barca in the return leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday March 4, with the winner to face either Athletic or Espanyol.

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