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Barça have endured five years of disappointments at Balaídos, but they put an end to that dry run with a fabulous display on a very damp Thursday night in northwest Spain. It was a confident, dominant display. The team gelled, the football was exquisite and they thoroughly deserved the 3-0 win. What’s more, they did it playing ten against eleven for more than half of the game.
Ansu starts early
Ansu Fati is on fire going into this new season. And he makes putting the ball in the back of the net look so easy! The game was just ten minutes old when he capped an early period of Barça pressure by getting on the end of a Philippe Coutinho assist and stroking the ball home with the kind of composure that defies his young age.
Two more goals and he will break an 81-year-old Liga record for goals scored before the age of 18!
Red cards were the other talking point of the half, one that wasn’t and one that was.
Gerard Pique was shown as straight red for a ‘professional foul’ on Denis Suárez, but as his former teammate was offside, the card was cancelled out. Suárez was also involved in the second incident, in which Clement Lenglet was rather harshly booked for putting an arm out – and as that was his second yellow. Barça would be a man down for the rest of the game.
With Galician wind and rain to deal with too, many suspected that Barça could be in trouble. But no sooner was the ball back rolling, and following the typically jinky run he does so well (is there anything he doesn’t do well?) Leo Messi had it in the back of the net. As it took a deflection off Lucas Olaza it goes down as an own goal, but the important thing was that Barça had doubled their lead!
Moments later, Coutinho hit the post and Messi was denied another chance to get on the scoresheet when he converted the rebound. Offside had been spotted. Close call but correct.
Barça never really like they were playing with ten men. Messi and Coutinho more than once, Piqué with a header… the chances were flowing and we were seeing very little of Celta. And Neto was in solid form to deal with the little the home side did manage to create – with a particularly fine piece of goalkeeping to deny former Barça man Nolito.
One more for luck
It really was an extraordinary performance from the blaugrana. The three points never really looked in doubt and deep into injury Sergi Roberto put the icing on the cake by slamming in goal number three and Barça will be coming back home from Galicia with very big smiles on their faces.
And they won’t be the only ones smiling tonight. Happy days, Barça fans!
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