It took Barcelona just 66 seconds to announce their return to action after three months of COVID-19 hiatus when they hammered Mallorca 4-0 win.
The goals came from Arturo Vidal, whose future with the Blaugrana remains unsure. The Chilean headed in the opener, and former Middlesbrough striker Martin Braithwaite also scored his first for the club before the break.
Luis Suarez, who recently returned to action after a long lay off came off the bench, and Jordi Alba also put his name in the scoring to make it 3-0. Star player Lionel Messi put the icing on the cake when he scored his 20th league goal of the season.
With the win, Barca has now put pressure on a fellow contender and closest rival, Real Madrid, who will be hosting Eibar today. The defending champions are now five points clear at the top of the La Liga table. Madrid will have to ensure maximum points to reduce the gap again to two points when they welcome the visitors to their temporary home, Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, as renovation works continue at the Bernabeu.
Suarez was able to recover and get back to action due to the coronavirus outbreak that led to the suspension of all activities. In the game played behind closed doors to avoid further spike of the deadly virus, 33-yer-old Suarez looked to have shaken off his injury after undergoing surgery on his right knee in January. Looking sharp, he was close to scoring on several occasions, but couldn’t get the game’s fifth goal in added time.
Braithwaite creates history in Barcelona
On scoring his first goal after securing an emergency transfer to the La Liga giant, Braithwaite becomes the third Danish player to score a La Liga goal for Barcelona, following the footstep of Allan Simonsen and Michael Laudrup.
Braithwaite, who had played for Middlesborough before secured the move from Leganes after La Liga, gave Barcelona permission to make a signing outside the transfer window in February due to Ousmane Dembele’s injury.
He put his name in the scoring sheet in an excellent fashion when he thumped Messi’s header. He could have scored the second but was denied by a fine save from Manolo Reina.
A fan invaded the pitch to take a selfie with Lionel Messi
Although Mallorca had plenty of possession, they caused no too much drama. But that would be provided later by a pitch invader in a Messi Argentina shirt. The fan surprisingly made his way on to the field despite the game being played without any fans in the stadium.
The fan who was clad in an Argentina shirt held his phone and calmly walked on to the pitch early in the second half of the game, defying the league’s social distancing regulations and approached Barca defender Jordi Alba before heading towards Messi.
He was stopped by security guards before he could make any contact with the six-time world player of the year. He was eventually removed from the pitch.
Speaking with Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, the fan who is French national living in Mallorca revealed that he had scaled a two-meter fence to enter the stadium shortly before half-time.
He said he had planned to take a photo with Messi because he’s his idol. The man who declined to give his name said he got a photo but it wasn’t a very good one and the police made him delete it.
“I stopped with Jordi Alba to tell him I was going for Messi. It was a nice experience,” he explained.
That was taken care of, and actions resumed, and Messi provided the assist for Alba to slot home the third. This was his 8th assist in 18 La Liga games, where he had scored seven goals as well under Quique Setien.
At the dearth, Messi scored his 20th La Liga goal when he collected a pass from Suarez, and chopped inside and curling in via a slight deflection. This is his 20th goals for the 12 straight season in the league.