BARCELONA: Lionel Messi was back in scoring business for Barcelona yesterday, leading them to a resounding 4-0 win at home against Villarreal in a near-perfect La Liga opener for the Catalans under new coach Ronald Koeman.
Teenage forward Ansu Fati was in inspirational form for Barca, combining with Jordi Alba to side-foot home first time into the net in the 15th minute and then struck again four minutes later with another ice-cool finish.
Fati, the 17-year-old in his second season in Barca’s first team after a stunning rise last year from the club’s youth set-up, then won the penalty which captain Messi dispatched to score the third in the 35th.
Villarreal defender Pau Torres scored an own goal right at the end of the first half to heap more pain on Unai Emery’s side and Barca continued to dominate the game in the second half without managing to add to their hefty advantage.
Koeman, who succeeded Quique Setien in August after the crushing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the
Champions League, could hardly have hoped for a better start after the chaotic close season overshadowed by Messi’s attempt to leave the club.
The Argentine had unleashed his latest attack on the club’s hierarchy only on Friday, criticising the manner in which his former strike partner