Messi back in scoring business in dream start for Koeman
Lionel Messi was back in scoring business for Barcelona on Sunday, 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 striking 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 Luis Suarez had been forced out of the club.
Suarez enjoyed a superb debut at Atletico Madrid earlier on Sunday but Barca did not seem to be missing the Uruguayan as they played with more pace and freedom than for many parts of last season, launching quickfire counters as well as building from the back.
“It was a good game for us especially in the first half, we were much better than them, we created lots of chances and scored four goals,” said Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets.
“We dropped our intensity a bit in the second half and they made things more difficult for us but overall we leave our first game with good sensations. We’re close to the team we want to be.”
The former Barca defender Koeman handed La Liga debuts to 17-year-old Pedri, Portuguese winger Francisco Trincao and Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic in the second half.
Ousmane Dembele also came on for his first competitive appearance for Barca since last November after returning from hamstring surgery.
Suarez motivated by fresh start at Atletico after leaving Barca
Luis Suarez is relishing his new challenge at Atletico Madrid following his dream debut for the club on Sunday when the former Barcelona striker scored twice and set up another goal in the 6-1 demolition of Granada.
The Uruguay striker was forced out of Barca by incoming coach Ronald Koeman despite a prolific tally of 198 goals in six seasons with the Catalans but he said after his double that switching clubs could be just what he needed.
"Barca reached a point where they decided they needed a change and some fresh air, so it was important to accept that and change club," Suarez, 33, told Spanish network Movistar.
"For a player sometimes it's important to make a change and I've come to club who have given me a spectacular welcome. You can sense that there is a very good atmosphere around the club and today we saw it on the pitch."
Suarez came on in the 70th minute with his side three goals up but wasted no time in making his mark on the game, laying on a pass for Marcos Llorente to score the fourth goal of the game.
He then headed home a cross from Llorente and rounded off an almost perfect day for Atletico by striking again in stoppage time.
"The team were in a good place when I came on and I just wanted to kill the game off," he added.
"I'm very happy with my debut and for the three points. When you make your debut and help the team with goals you're always going to be happy."
Atletico coach Diego Simeone highlighted Suarez's work off the ball as well as his goals.
"I'm not just pleased with his two goals but also his assist, his movement and his runs," said Simeone.
"His arrival will generate a lot of internal competition and if all 23 players in the squad accept the minutes they are given then I'm sure we'll compete well.
"The arrival of an important player like Suarez will always improve the team but we were already working very well."
Ronaldo double earns point for 10-man Juventus at Roma
Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal of the night rescued a 2-2 draw for 10-man Juventus away to AS Roma in Serie A on Sunday, after Jordan Veretout had twice put the capital club in front.
Veretout and Ronaldo netted penalties after both teams were penalised for handball, and the French midfielder then struck his second of the night in first-half stoppage time.
Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot was shown a second yellow card to leave his side a man down for the final third of the match, but a towering Ronaldo header earned a point for the Italian champions in Andrea Pirlo’s second game in charge.
The result leaves Juventus in fifth place, with four points from their opening two league games.
Roma are down in 13th on one point, as their opening day 0-0 draw against Hellas Verona was changed to a 3-0 defeat by Serie A because they fielded an ineligible player.
Roma’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan almost scored a spectacular individual goal early on, dribbling from inside his own half before his shot was smothered by Wojciech Szczesny.
The hosts went in front after half an hour when Rabiot was penalised for handball, allowing Veretout to convert from 12 yards.
Pirlo says Juventus are work in progress after Roma draw
Juventus levelled in almost identical fashion when Lorenzo Pellegrini’s trailing arm blocked the ball and Ronaldo fired home the subsequent spot kick.
But the lead lasted just two minutes before Juve were caught on the break and Mkhitaryan squared a pass to Veretout for a composed finish.
Roma captain Edin Dzeko, who was close to joining Juventus in the close season, was inches away when his shot struck the foot of the post.
Pirlo’s side were left with a mountain to climb when a clumsy challenge from Rabiot on the 62nd minute earned him a second booking.
But they found an equaliser from a familiar source when Ronaldo hung in the air in trademark fashion to head in a cross.