Ansu Fati stars on first start in almost a year as Barca beat Valencia
Ansu Fati came to the rescue again on Sunday by scoring a sensational goal and earning a penalty in a 3-1 victory over Valencia as Barcelona got a big week off to a winning start.
Memphis Depay slammed in the spot-kick and Philippe Coutinho, who came on for Fati on the hour, added a late third to give a comfortable complexion to a game that Valencia had led after just five minutes.
Ansu went off with Valencia still chasing an equaliser, an indication of how important Ronald Koeman considers his involvement in Wednesday’s Champions League game against Dynamo Kiev, with the season’s first Clasico against Real Madrid coming four days later.
After losing their first two games to Bayern Munich and Benfica, Barca sit bottom of the group, meaning a victory over Kiev is all-but essential.
Madrid, meanwhile, are only two points clear of Barcelona in La Liga but they have a game in hand and another significant loss on the back of the limp defeat by Atletico Madrid before the international break could have implications for Koeman’s future as coach.
Yet with Ansu, they have hope, the 18-year-old, who wears the number 10 shirt previously belonging to Lionel Messi, now the symbol of what the club are promoting as the ‘Dream Teen’, and optimism for an exciting future.
There were some short-term boosts too, with Sergio Aguero coming on as a substitute in the final minutes once the result was secure to make his Barcelona debut, four months after joining from Manchester City.
A calf injury has meant a slow start at Camp Nou for Aguero but the 33-year-old will be a valuable option for Koeman if he can regain form and fitness in the next few weeks.
In the 13th minute, he was more clinical, squaring up two Valencia defenders before playing inside to Depay and bursting between both of
Sevilla edged up to third after a second-half goal from Rafa Mir was enough to give them a battling 1-0 win away at struggling Celta Vigo.
After being beaten by Granada before the international break, Sevilla got back to winning ways with the kind of resilient, determined performance they delivered so often last season.
They edge ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal difference, three points behind early leaders Real Sociedad with a game in hand.
Celta sit 16th, with seven points from their first nine matches.