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FC Barcelona posted a display to remember at the Camp Nou on Saturday, and what it will most be remembered for was the most extraordinary first half display from a lad who is just 16 years of age.
Valencia were ripped apart by a rampant Barça, who scored five but could have scored more on a thrilling night of football that augurs very well indeed for the season ahead.
The ball had barely started rolling and Ansu Fati had already made his mark. Carles Pérez opened the move, and some clever dummying by Frenkie De Jong produced a killer pass for Antoine Griezmann. But it was a double Barça bluff. The Frenchman let the ball go and the teenager appeared from nowhere to slam the ball past former Barça keeper Jasper Cillessen.
In his first senior competitive start, the native of Bissau had scored in less than just two minutes!
The game was just six minutes old and he had the Camp Nou gasping again. Wonderful skill down the left, Ezequiel Garay left standing, and the perfect pass for De Jong to bang in the second and his first Liga goal for his new club.
Valencia bite back
Not even De Jong’s staggering 100% pass accuracy rate could prevent this from becoming the Ansu Fati show. The youngster would have two chances before the break and produce the most audacious of flicks over a defender’s head… yet the only other goal of the half would be claimed by Valencia.
Kevin Gameiro was originally called offside, but the ref had a chat with the VAR guys upstairs and decided he was in the clear. And if it hadn’t been from some stunning work from Ter Stegen, Gameiro could have had his side back level.
Six after the restart and Barça were 2-up again. Cillessen failed to get his hands on Griezmann’s shot, and when the ball bounced back off the post, Gerard Piqué was there first two make it 3-1.
Suárez at the double
Ansu Fati went off to a standing ovation, and on came Luis Suárez. With his first touch of the ball, the Uruguayan had nothing to aim for on the edge of the area. A pause. A dummy. He picked the spot that wasn’t even there and with the most exquisite of finishes, he had the ball bounding in off the post to make it four.
Cillessen made up for his earlier mistake with a number of fine saves, but Suárez was firing on all cylinders. After Ivan Rakitic had already tested the Dutch stopper, Griezmann found El Pistolero off the rebound and a first-time finish followed.
It was the first time Suárez has ever scored twice coming off the bench.
His international team-mate, Maxi López did grab a late consolation goal for Valencia at the end. But that’s all it was. Consolation.
The best side had won this. And the best side had done so with a performance to savour. And the still injured Leo Messi wasn’t even on the pitch.
Things are looking very. Very sweet indeed at Can Barça. Dortmund, here we come!
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