Keita, celebrating his goal against Sporting / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

It was a dream-like night for Seydou Keita. The Mali international, who played the full 90 minutes against Sporting Gijón, was the decisive player on the pitch when Barça desperately needed a goal. The midfielder, playing in his first match after the Africa Cup of Nations, unleashed pandemonium in the Camp Nou when he directed his left-footed shot to the upper corner of of Pablo’s goal. Amazing goal.

“I’m very pleased because it was very important to win, we were 10 points down,” said Keita at the end of the match. “We could have drawn, but in the end we won the three points,” he said.

Absent for 13 games

It’s been a while since the midfielder graced the pitch for FC Barcelona. Keita was with the Mali national side for the Africa Cup of Nations for 11 Barça matches, and he didn’t play against Valencia (5-1) or Atlético Madrid (1-2). In total, he hasn’t played in 13 games. Before tonight, his last minutes on the pitch for Barça were at Cornellá-El Prat against Espanyol (1-1), at the start of the new year. The last time he started for the team was against Rayo (4-0), the game was played on November 29th, 2011.

Twentieth goal as an Azulgrana

His return to the starting XI was brilliant. He scored his second goal of the season, his first was in the semifinals of the Club World Cup against Al-Saad (4-0). This was, throughout his Azulgrana career, his 20th goal for Barça. Up until now he’s scored six goals in each of the seasons he’s been at the Catalan club (starting in 2008/09).