Updated: Thursday, 09 January 2014 06:40 | By Agence France-Presse

Messi makes long-awaited return from injury

Four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi made his first appearance in 59 days on Wednesday as a substitute in Barcelona's Copa del Rey last 16, first-leg tie against Getafe.

Messi makes long-awaited return from injury

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (C) vies with Getafe's defender Rafael Lopez (L) and midfielder Diego Castro (R) at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on January 8, 2014

The Argentine replaced Andres Iniesta after 63 minutes with Barcelona leading 2-0 thanks to a Cesc Fabregas double.

With Saturday's upcoming top of the table clash away to Atletico Madrid in mind, Barca boss Gerardo Martino had made six changes to the side that started last weekend's 4-0 win over Elche.

However, with Messi and Neymar, ruled out by a stomach bug, again not in the  starting line-up, Martino maintained the front three of Alexis Sanchez, Pedro Rodriguez and Fabregas.

The Argentine coach's selection proved inspired as Pedro's lobbed cross was expertly headed into the far corner by Fabregas after just eight minutes.

And Fabregas added a second from the penalty spot after Pedro had been upended by Juan Valera seconds before Messi's introduction.

Messi had been sidelined since he tore his hamstring early on in Barca's 4-1 win away to Real Betis on November 10.

After beginning his treatment for the injury in Barcelona, he travelled to his native Argentina to continue his recovery process during December.

He returned to the Catalan capital to take part in training on January 2, but was left out of Martino's squad for Elche clash to allow him a few more sessions alongside his teammates before returning.

Despite scoring 14 times in 16 appearances this season, Messi's campaign has been beset by fitness problems as he was also ruled out for shorter periods in August and October with muscular injuries.

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