Antoine Griezmann bagged a brace and registered an assist in his home league debut to lead Barcelona to a 5-2 victory over Real Betis on Sunday night at the Camp Nou.
After Nabil Fekir scored for Betis against the run of play, Barcelona answered with four goals in a span of 20 minutes, with two coming off the foot of Griezmann. Also getting into the scoring act for the Catalans were Carles Perez, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal before Loren Moron added a late consolation goal for the Andalusians.
With Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele all out injured, head coach Ernesto Valverde had to do some shuffling to his starting XI, so it was Carles Perez and Rafinha Alcantara joining Griezmann in attack. Ivan Rakitic was relegated to the bench once again, meaning he went for a midfield three of Sergi Roberto, Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong.
It was all Barcelona in the first few minutes, with an energy that was hardly seen last week at San Mames, yet it was Betis with their first chance of the match who broke the deadlock. A poor giveaway from Busquets in midfield started a break and it ended with Loren finding Fekir, and the new arrival from Lyon finished with aplomb past Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for a 0-1 Betis lead.
The goal stunned the Camp Nou and as bright as Barcelona started the match, the Betis goal sent the hosts back to the stagnate football that plagued them last week. Finally, a flash of brilliance came with Busquets finding the flying Jordi Alba, whose cut-back pass reached Rafinha but Sidnei arrived to deflect it out for a corner kick.
Barcelona’s probing would pay off shortly before half-time as Sergi Roberto floated in an inch-perfect cross to Griezmann, who managed to peel off the shoulder of Betis defender Marc Barta and hit a first-time shot past Dani Martin to make it 1-1.
The Blaugrana almost followed up the Griezmann goal with another thanks to a curling cross from Carles Perez, only for Rafinha to spurn the opportunity.
The momentum was with Barcelona and they looked to overwhelm Betis at start the second half, with Griezmann integral as he received a pass from Sergi Roberto off a Betis mistake and sent a sensational, curling left-footer past Dani Martin and into the left corner for a 2-1 lead.
Barcelona were flying and soon enough it was 3-1, with Nelson Semedo finding Carles Perez, and the youngster, who was very impressive in pre-season, took an excellent touch and slid a left-footed shot into goal.
Barcelona’s 10-minute second-half blitz of Betis then ended with Busquets picking out Alba, who had the time and space to launch a shot that landed just inside the far post to make it 4-1.
With the three-goal cushion, the home side was in full control and later tacked on a fifth when Griezmann hit a first-time pass over to substitute Arturo Vidal, which he hammered into the roof of net to extend it to 5-1.
The four-goal advantage also allowed for some history to be made as 16-year-old Ansu Fati became the second-youngest player to ever appear in a first-team match for Barcelona when he came on for Carles Perez.
For all the fine work from Griezmann on the day, he did lose possession for Betis to find a second goal through a first-class hit from Loren to make it 5-2.
Nevertheless, the day ended in triumph for a Barcelona side that, for the moment, can forget their injury worries.
5.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Busquets (Vidal, min. 73), De Jong, Carlos Perez (Ansu Fati, min. 78), Rafinha (Junior Firpo, min. 81), Griezmann.
2.- Betis: Dani Martin, Emerson, Bartra, Sidnei, Pedraza, William, Guardado (Kaptoum, min. 61), Canales (Lainez, min. 75), Fekir, Tello (Joaquin, min. 61), Loren.
Goals: 0-1, min. 15: Fekir; 1-1, min. 41: Griezmann; 2-1, min. 50: Griezmann; 3-1, min. 56: Carles Perez; 4-1, min. 60: Jordi Alba; 5-1, min. 77: Vidal; 5-2, min. 79: Loren.
Referee: Gonzalez Gonzalez (Castilla y Leon). Yellow Cards: Pique (Min. 31) for Barcelona, Carvalho (Min. 90) for Betis.
Red cards: None.
Stadium: Camp Nou.