Barcelona beat Levante as Fati takes over Messi’s No. 10 shirt
Barcelona produced a superb display on Sunday as they put their off-field woes behind them to beat Levante 3-0 at the Camp Nou, a result that eases the pressure on coach Ronald Koeman.
The Guine-Bissau- born Spanish professional Ansu Fati, wearing the number 10 shirt previously belonging to Lionel Messi, got a jubilant welcome at Camp Nou, 323 days after his last appearance in November last year.
The 18-year-old youngster came back in style, carrying the ball forward and hitting on target into the net in injury time to complete a much-needed victory for Barca.
His return in one of the most unforgettable moments in recent Barça history.
Fati was hoisted into the air by his teammates and then he climbed into the crowd behind the substitutes bench, to embrace members of his family and the club's medical staff.
"I want to say thank you to the doctors and everyone who has been with me through all this, and the fans who have been unbelievable," said Fati afterwards.
Barcelona proved that, despite being ravaged by injuries, their shoestring squad will still mean business this season.
Barca's opener came on after six minutes - Sergio Dest the decoy over-lapper, Memphis Depay cutting infield, weaving inside with wonderful footwork, felled for a penalty which he aptly converted.
Dest would turn provider for the second just eight minutes later, exploiting the space left infield by the visiting midfield block, and the former Ajax man had the awareness to drive onwards, before sliding a great ball through for de Jong to finish with aplomb.
Barcelona's first win in four games moves them up to fifth in La Liga, five points behind perennial rivals Real Madrid with a game in hand. They play Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano next weekend.