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BARCELONA

Messi injury less severe than first feared

A statement on Barcelona's website confirmed Messi has light external bruising on his left knee and will undergo further tests to see if he is able to play against Betis on the weekend.

What initially looked to be a meaningless game against Benfica in the Champions League could have proved costly for Barcelona.

Leo Messi had to leave the pitch on a stretcher in the 85th minute after suffering an injury to his left knee, the extent of which has yet to be determined.

'Catalunya Radio' reported that at first glance the injury did not appear to be serious, but the player will receive an MRI scan to determine how long he will be out of action for.

Messi did not start the game, with Tito Vilanova resting many of his usual starters with a view to the away match with Real Betis in the league on the weekend.

Messi came onto the pitch in the 57th minute, replacing Rafinha and in the 85th minute was through on goal with just Benfica goalkeeper Artur to beat. The Argentine rounded the goalkeeper, who fell on Messi's left knee. Messi felt the pain immediately but still tried to finish off the play, but could only fire his shot straight at Artur. Messi then fell to the ground and could not get up. Holding his head in his hands he left the pitch on a stretcher, leaving the Camp Nou in a stunned silence.

A statement on the club's website confirmed that the player had external bruising on his left knee and will undergo further tests to see if he is able to play against Betis.

It was an unfortunate ending to what could have been a memorable night for Messi, who was hoping to beat Gerd Müller's record of 84 goals in a calendar year.

Messi has suffered six relatively serious injuries in his career, most of which were to his thighs, and the last of which came in March 2008. Since then he has just suffered several near misses, the most serious being a fierce tackle by Ujfalusi three seasons ago.

Estadísticas AS.com