MADRID: Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova praised Lionel Messi after the Catalans' hard-fought 2-1 away win over Osasuna this morning.
Vilanova's men were a goal down to the hosts for the majority of the game, but it was the Argentine's two late goals that eventually won the day. Messi had a quiet game in the first half but cam back alive in the second.
Speaking after the match, Vilanova said: "Messi always gives us a 10, but even when is a nine, he still scores goals. I think he played well."
Vilanova also praised the performance of the hosts, who proved to be a stern test until Messi took centre stage.
"Osasuna are tough opponents. The crowd were what we expected. They played well into the second half, and made it complicated, but we still had enough chances to win the game," he said.
Osasuna stunned Barca by taking the lead in the 17th minute before Messi's goals struck in the 76th and 80th minutes.
The referee handed Vilanova his marching orders after apparently taking offence to some of the comments being made on the touchline.
"I told the assistant referee it was a clear foul, apparently that's a reason to send someone off. The other coaches were warned," said Vilanova.
Meanwhile, veteran defender Carles Puyol looks set for a spell on the sidelines after fracturing his right cheekbone during the match.
Hospital tests confirmed the injury, meaning Puyol is likely to miss the Spain Super Cup second-leg tie against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Puyol will undergo further tests today to determine the full extent of the injury and his estimated length of absence.
The player is remaining upbeat, however, posting an optimistic tweet to supporters after the game.
"Many thanks for your messages. I'm fine and I'm sure I'll get back on the attack soon. Hugs. Good night."