'We do not know his limits': Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova hails Lionel Messi

 

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova chose to focus on the brilliance of Lionel Messi rather than engage in a slanging match with Real Madrid after the teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in the first Clasico of the Primera Division season.

Cristiano Ronaldo started and finished the scoring at the Nou Camp, with Messi also at the double - his second strike a stunning free-kick - to ensure honours ended even.

"We do not know his limits," Vilanova said of the Argentina forward. "You should see how he trains every day - that urge he has to keep getting better.

"I think we will never see another player like this. He is the best in the world by far."

Vilanova added that Ronaldo would be "more recognised" if his career had not coincided with Messi's.

As always between the arch rivals, tensions frequently looked in danger of boiling over.

Visiting defender Pepe accused Andres Iniesta of "doing theatre" in a bid to win a second-half penalty and Madrid coach Jose Mourinho - who infamously poked a finger into the eye of Vilanova on the touchline last season when he was Pep Guardiola's assistant - claimed the referee made "one mistake at a certain moment".

"He said he does not want to discuss referees, yet he has," Vilanova said of his opposite number. "If you talk about referees you should talk about all actions, not a few in particular."

On Pepe's claims of simulation against Iniesta, Vilanova quipped: "We should make a video of all his fouls and actions."

Vilanova's side headed into the game eight points clear of the champions and boasting a 100 per cent record from their first six matches.

The result allowed Atletico Madrid to join Barca at the summit of La Liga thanks to their 2-1 home win over Malaga in the late kick-off, but Vilanova remained more than satisfied with his team's start to the campaign.

"Of course we always think that we have to win games and in the end I thought we could have," he said on http://www.fcbarcelona.cat. "We had late chances with (Martin) Montoya and Pedro (Rodriguez).

"If at the beginning of the season we were told that we would be eight points ahead (of Madrid) at this stage we would have taken that."

Barca confirmed after the match that wing-back Dani Alves will be out of action for three weeks after picking up a hamstring injury which required him to be substituted in the 28th minute.

Ronaldo also picked up a knock, with Madrid revealing on their website that the Portugal international will undergo more tests over the next few hours after suffering a sprained left shoulder.

Both sides had decent penalty shouts turned down at the start of the second half, Mesut Ozil going down after contact with Javier Mascherano before Iniesta appeared to be clipped by Pepe.

"The referee is good, but made one mistake at a certain moment," Mourinho said. "It can happen to anyone. I will not mention the penalty."

The Portuguese added: "It was a great game that either team could have won."

PA

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