Barcelona: Lionel Messi was back in scoring business Sunday for Barcelona. The Argentine led Barcelona to a resounding 4-0 win at home against Villarreal in a near-perfect La Liga opener for the Catalans under new coach Ronald Koeman. In the process Lionel Messi also got his name on the scoresheet.
Teenage forward Ansu Fati was in inspirational form for Barca, combining with Jordi Alba to side-foot home first time into the net in the 15th minute. Fati then struck again four minutes later with another ice-cool finish.
Fati, the 17-year-old is in his second season in Barcelona’s first team after a stunning rise last year from the club’s youth set-up. Fati won a penalty which captain Messi dispatched to score the third Barcelona goal in the 35th minute.
Villarreal defender Pau Torres scored an own goal right at the end of the first half to heap more pain on Unai Emery’s side. Barca continued to dominate the game in the second half without managing to add to their hefty advantage.
Koeman succeeded Quique Setien in August after the crushing 2-8 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. He could hardly have hoped for a better start after the chaotic close season overshadowed by Messi’s attempt to leave the club.
The Argentine had unleashed his latest attack on the club’s hierarchy only Friday, criticising the manner in which his former strike partner Luis Suarez had been forced out of the club. Suarez enjoyed a superb debut at Atletico Madrid earlier Sunday. However, Barca did not seem to be missing the Uruguayan as they played with more pace and freedom. “It was a good game for us especially in the first half, we were much better than them, we created lots of chances and scored four goals,” said Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets.
“We dropped our intensity a bit in the second half and they made things more difficult for us but overall we leave our first game with good sensations. We’re close to the team we want to be,” Busquets added.