|1 февраля 2021 01:24 • 275 •|
Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann each scored to help lift Barcelona to a 2-1 victory over Athletic Club on Sunday night at the Camp Nou.
The win had to have been sweet for the Catalans after having fallen to the Basques in the Supercopa de Espana final two weeks prior. It started with an impeccable freekick from Lionel Messi that was cancelled out by a Jordi Alba own goal early in the second-half. However, some classic Barcelona football with pinpoint passing and quick ball movement resulted in Griezmann match-winner.
Messi was back in Ronald Koeman starting XI with Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in attack, while Miralem Pjanic came in for the suspended Sergio Busquets in midfield and centre-back Samuel Umtiti started ahead of Clement Lenglet.
The 555-million-euro man had the first chance of the match in the early minutes, but failed to chip past Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon. Soon enough the Argentine got another crack at goal from a favourable free-kick position outside the area and he could not have struck it any sweeter, curling a left-footed effort that sailed right over the head of defender Yeray and into the top right corner of net for a 1-0 lead.
Barcelona remained mostly in control during the 45 minutes, but they were in for a rude awakening to start the second stanza when an excellent cross from Raul Garcia from the left was mistakenly turned into net by Alba due to the pressure coming from Oscar de Marcos.
The home side looked to regain control and started poking and prodding the Athletic defence, including a Pjanic header that required a reaction save from Unai Simon. The former Roma and Juventus man would be the first one to be replaced, with Sergi Roberto making his return from a long-term injury and slotting into midfield.
Barcelona had Athletic pegged back as they hunted the go-ahead goal and some slick passing would give Koeman that coveted second score with a quarter-hour to go. Dembele found Oscar Mingueza on an overlapping run and the square across was put on a silver platter for Griezmann to slam into net to make it 2-1.
Just like in the Supercopa final when they edged Barcelona in extra time, Athletic looked to pull level at the end of regulation and Inaki Williams came within a whisker of getting on the end of a Yuri Berchiche cross just yards away from goal.
Koeman looked to shore things up in the back to try to see things out, so Lenglet was summoned to replace Griezmann, followed by Martin Braithwaite on for Dembele.
This time around there would be no late equaliser for Athletic, as Barcelona saw things out to pocket the three points to climb up to second in the table.
2.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Mingueza, Umtiti, Araujo, Jordi Alba, Pjanic (Sergi Roberto, min. 67), Frenkie De Jong, Pedri, Griezmann (Lenglet, min. 84), Dembele, Messi.
1.- Athletic Club: Unai Simon, Capa (Lekue, min. 84), Yeray, Inigo Martinez, Yuri, Vencedor (Vesga, min. 67), Dani Garcia, De Marcos (Berenguer, min. 67), Muniain, Raul Garcia, Williams (Villalibre, min. 84).
Goals: 1-0, min. 19: Messi; 1-1, min. 50: Alba (og); 2-1, min. 74: Griezmann
Referee: Mateu Lahoz (Valencian). Cards: Raul Garcia (Min. 32) for Athletic, Yeray (Min. 39) for Athletic, Jordi Alba (Min. 51) for Barcelona, Capa (Min. 77) for Athletic
Red cards: None
Stadium: Camp Nou