Barcelona: Two strokes of genius by FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and another by Philippe Coutinho in the second half knocked down the defensive barrier that Alaves had erected at the Camp Nou stadium, where the hosts started their La Liga title defence with a convincing 3-0 victory.
Led by the Argentine star, Barcelona on Saturday dominated the match from beginning to end, to the extent that it sometimes looked like Alaves were just giving up. Abelardo Fernandez’s team seemed trapped in its own end of the field, and had very little control of the ball, reports Efe.
In the first half, Barcelona held a virtual monopoly of the ball, and whenever their players lost control of it, they got it back within seconds. And after the second half started, it was all a Barcelona monologue.
Messi got Barcelona on the scoreboard by forcing a penalty in the area and executing the penalty kick masterfully, with a straight shot that tricked keeper Pacheco and whizzed under the crossbar to make it 1-0 in the 64th minute.
Then it was Brazilian Coutinho’s turn as he moved into the area and got positioned for a right-footed slam dunk that made it 2-0 seven minutes before the end of the game.
By this time Alaves were visibly deflated and not once put Barcelona’s goalkeeper Ter Stegen to the test. But Barcelona were smelling blood and Messi piled on another goal in the 92nd minute after taking an assist from Suarez and left-footing it into the net. And so the score jumped to 3-0 on the last play of the game.
“They (Alaves) defended very well out there, they were very compact. We were lacking a bit of rhythm early on but then we started getting more chances and finally opened the scoring,” Ernesto Valverde said after the game.
“When Alavés started opening up more, we were able to kill off the game,” explained Valverde, who considered that “as the minutes went by, we got better and better”.