A quartet of fine individual goals, including Lionel Messi’s 2019/20 opener, saw ruthless La Liga champions Barcelona roar into the international break with an ominous 4-0 victory against Sevilla, despite finishing with nine men.
Momentum gained via the midweek, come-from-behind victory against Inter Milan in the Champions League was built upon at Camp Nou on Sunday. Not even the 87th-minute dismissal of debutant Ronald Araujo for a pull on substitute Javier Hernandez, then subsequent red card for a protesting Ousmane Dembele, could truly sour the night.
A stupendous few days for Uruguay hit man Luis Suarez continued with a sublime 27th-minute bicycle kick to open the scoring against Julen Lopetegui’s sixth-placed visitors. The rampaging runs of Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal – selected in place of Spain anchor man Sergio Busquets – gained reward when he slid home a quick-fire from Brazil conductor Arthur’s penetrative pass, before France winger Dembele – in for compatriot Antoine Griezmann – skilfully checked back and slotted into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 with 10 minutes left of the opening period.
The Catalans then kept their visitors at arm’s length, prior to Argentine icon Messi netting a textbook 78th-minute free-kick to move onto 37 goals in 38 games versus the visitors. This result placed Barca into second spot, while Sevilla – who will point to more missed chances from new striker Luuk de Jong – have now lost three of their last four top-flight fixtures.
Here are the player ratings:
Marc-Andre ter Stegen 6: Did well to deny Sergio Reguilon, then saved by post from De Jong.
Sergi Roberto 6: Nondescript night for Roberto. Looks more comfortable at right-back.
Jean-Clair Todibo 6: Made a few solid headers, however night was soured by removal via injury in second half.
Gerard Pique 6: Picked up the booking required to feature in El Clasico. Guided Todibo through game, before injury.
Nelson Semedo 7: Showed versatility, yet again, on the left flank. Put in the cross for Suarez’s eye-catching goal.
Arturo Vidal 8: Burst forward to latch onto Arthur’s pass for the second justified his start, at expense of Busquets.
Frenkie de Jong 7: Sublime first-half pirouette brought gasps of approval from Camp Nou. Did well at base of midfield.
Arthur 7: Pair of assists for the burgeoning Brazil international. A force to be reckoned with.
Lionel Messi 7: Continued his bullying of Sevilla, statistically his favourite opponent, with a second-half free-kick. Is clearly working his way into shape after a disrupted summer.
Luis Suarez 7: What a week for the Uruguay superstar, whose got three world-class goals in two games.
Ousmane Dembele 5: Did so well to take his goal, then spoiled night with sending off for dissent. Ups and downs.
Sergio Busquets 6: Another one to get booked in 88th-minute melee. Dropped after poor recent form.
Ivan Rakitic 6: Called back into action. Produced one wild shot.
Ronald Araujo 3: A dream debut for Barca turned into a nightmare when dismissed for tugging Chicharito.
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