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By ESPN Staff

Goal hero Messi spares a thought for Maradona

MADRID, April 19 (Reuters) - Lionel Messi said he hopes former Argentina great Diego Maradona returns to full health soon, the day after scoring a goal similar to Maradona's classic solo effort against England at the 1986 World Cup.

The 19-year-old Argentine dribbled from inside his own half to score Barcelona's second goal in a 5-2 semi-final first leg victory over Getafe in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday.

'Diego has always backed me and I hope he gets well soon. The whole of Argentina wants him back well again because we miss him,' Messi said after the game.

Maradona, who sunk England in the quarter-finals in Mexico, is recovering in a Buenos Aires hospital from abdominal pains, and has recently been treated for alcoholic hepatitis that doctors have linked to heavy drinking.

Messi received a pass from Xavi in his own half, dodged two players and sprinted towards the Getafe goal. He then swerved past two more defenders before rounding the keeper to score from a tight angle.

'I saw the space and went for it as I always do. I saw Samuel (Eto'o) was in a good position to do a one-two as I neared the area but with two defenders nearby, so I took it on myself,' he explained.

The goal dominated the front page of Thursday's sports newspapers. Diagrams of the numbers of players passed and the distances covered were thrown up to make minute comparisons with Maradona's effort.

The fact Messi's was in a Copa Del Rey semi-final as opposed to a World Cup quarter-final was perhaps the only detracting factor from the youngster's strike, though he carried the ball at a greater pace.

Barcelona-based daily Sport said 'Messi Superstar' on its front page while the Marca led with 'Messidona.'

Barca coach Frank Rijkaard described the move as a 'work of art.'

The only dampener came from Getafe coach Bernd Schuster, when asked about the goal in the post-match press conference.

'I can't see the goal through the eyes of a spectator. We should have stopped him before he got to the area even if it cost us a yellow card. You can't afford to be so generous,' said the German.