Lionel Messi earned praise from supporters for his sportsmanship in turning down a penalty during Barcelona’s 3-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano.
The attacker embarked upon a trademark mazy run and beat two defenders before being blocked off in the box.
While his team-mates called for a spot-kick and the referee appeared to be asking for a VAR review, Messi was quick to make it clear he felt the challenge was legal.
Although the La Liga champions fell behind to Raul De Tomas’ shock opener, the Argentinian would go on to set up Gerard Pique’s opener from a free-kick.
Messi then converted a penalty for his 26th strike of the season, before Luis Suarez completed the scoring in the scoring half.
It was Messi’s act of sportsmanship that had supporters talking though, with one claiming ‘Messi is the only one keeping it real’.
Another questioned ‘How can someone not like the guy’ and a third hailed his sportsmanship.
Victory over the relegation-threatened visitors stretched Barcelona’s unbeaten run to 14 games and re-established their seven-point lead at the top of La Liga.
The Catalan giants will now prepare for their Champions League last-16 second leg clash against Lyon at the Nou Camp, having drawn 0-0 in the first game.
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