Barcelona exorcised some of their Champions League demons by thrashing Hungarian minnows Ferencvaros 5-1 on Tuesday, in their first European game since last season’s humiliation by Bayern Munich.
Lionel Messi won and then scored a penalty before the 17-year-old Ansu Fati contributed to two brilliant goals, volleying in one for himself and then setting up another for Philippe Coutinho.
Barca’s defensive frailties were never far away at Camp Nou and Gerard Pique was sent off before the hour for preventing Tokmac Nguen from finishing in the penalty area.
Ihor Kharatin converted the spot-kick but late goals from Pedri and Ousamane Dembele ended any hopes of a comeback and gave Barcelona some much-needed momentum ahead of Saturday’s Clasico in La Liga against Real Madrid.
“We go into it with the maximum motivation possible,” said Fati. “It’s a Clasico, a game I have always dreamed of playing in.”
A big win also puts them top of Group G but Pique’s red card means he will miss next week’s game away at Juventus, who had earlier beaten Dynamo Kiev.
That game in Turin will be a greater test of Barca’s capabilities under new coach Ronald Koeman but at least his players were smiling again, 67 days on from their 8-2 embarrassment in Lisbon.
Fati was the star, his goal making him the first player under the age of 18 to have scored twice in the Champions League.
But it was a good night for Barcelona’s youngsters overall, as Francisco Trincao, preferred to Antoine Griezmann down the right, impressed, before another 17-year-old Pedri came on to score his first goal for the club.—AFP