Antoine Griezmann responded to the challenge laid down by Ernesto Valverde with a brilliant display as Barcelona came from behind to thrash Real Betis 5-2.
The coach Valverde called for Griezmann to be more involved in the game following an ineffective debut in the opening-day defeat at Athletic Bilbaoand the Frenchman delivered with two goals and an assist at the Camp Nou.
Barça went into the game without the injured Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé and found themselves a goal down early on but Griezmann equalised shortly before half-time and curled in a superb second early in the second half which had Suárez and Messi beaming their approval.
Barça started brightly and Griezmann saw a seventh-minute shot deflected wide before the same player hit a first-time effort from the edge of the area straight at the goalkeeper, Dani Martin.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play, Sergio Busquets giving the ball away with a careless pass in midfield and Loren playing a superb pass through to Nabil Fekir, who coolly scored into the bottom corner.
The home fans must have feared the worst and their mood was not improved when Busquets set Alba away down the left and his cross was pulled back for Rafinha to face the seemingly simple task of sidefooting home, only for the Brazilian defender Sidnei to deflect the ball for a corner.
Betis could not survive until the interval, however, as Sergi Roberto clipped a superb ball into the area for Griezmann to meet with a sliding left-foot volley which Martin got his hand to but was unable to keep out.
Seconds later Barcelona should have been in front as Perez swept the ball in from the right but Rafinha, caught in two minds, ended up failing to get a decisive touch from six yards out.
The home side started the second half as they had finished the first and it took only four minutes for Griezmann to score his second of the game, the 28-year-old curling a sublime shot into the far corner from just outside the area.
The superb finish was thoroughly enjoyed by Messi and Suárez in the stands and it was not long before they were celebrating another goal, Pérez steering a low shot into the corner after being set up by Nélson Semedo.
With the points in the bag Barcelona’s players were beginning to enjoy themselves and Alba made it 4-1 on the hour mark, firing home after being played in by Busquets.
Griezmann then turned supplier as he set up Vidal to rifle a shot into the roof of the net but the visitors had the last word with Loren’s stunning drive which flew past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen into the top corner.
Source: The Guardian