Lionel Messi equalled Xavi’s record of 767 Barcelona appearances on Monday night and joined Antoine Griezmann and Oscar Mingueza on the scoresheet with a brace to secure a comfortable 4-1 victory against Huesca at Camp Nou.
Ronald Koeman’s side dominated play from the get go and found the breakthrough within just 13 minutes. Messi marked his special day by taking Sergio Busquets’ pass in his stride, before knocking the ball to his left and unleashing a beautiful effort into the net via the underside of the bar.
Griezmann then doubled the hosts’ advantage on 36 minutes, picking the ball up about 30 yards from goal and sublimely curling it into Alvaro Fernandez’s top corner.
Huesca showed spirit, however, and got back into he game on the stroke of half time. A quick counter attack ended in what looked like a foul on Rafa Mir in the box, and after a long VAR check which showed that there was very little contact, the penalty was awarded and subsequently converted coolly by the on-loan Wolves man.
La Blaugrana started the second period very well, though, and restored the two goal cushion after 53 minutes when a Messi cross found the head of Mingueza, who emphatically nodded in for his first Barcelona goal. Messi (who else?) then put the game beyond any doubt with another lovely strike, this time finding the bottom corner from 25 yards out to make it 4-1 in the 90th minute. The win moves Barça up to second and cuts Atletico Madrid’s lead at La Liga’s summit to just four points.
Now, let’s get to the Barcelona player ratings…
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – 6/10 – Was solid as ever, making one especially brilliant stop to deny Pablo Maffeo from 15 yards. Couldn’t do anything about the penalty that spoiled his clean sheet.
Oscar Mingueza (CB) – 9/10 – Fantastic showing from the youngster, making three clearances and six ball recoveries, including breaking up play to set Barcelona away in the build up to the opening goal. Deservedly grabbed a goal himself to make it 3-1.
Frenkie De Jong (CB) – 7/10 – Another solid outing at the back, covering for the two either side of him well, and was afforded more freedom to influence proceedings. Worried the Huesca back line when he surged forward and even hit the bar from in the first half.
Clement Lenglet (CB) – 6/10 – Held the high line well to put the pressure on the visitors and, although looking a little weak when pinned back, will be happy with an error-free night.
Sergino Dest (RWB) – 6/10 – Another dangerous performance from wing back, getting up the right really well and threatening the Huesca goal with a piledriver that was well saved by Fernandez.
Sergio Busquets (CM) – 8/10 – Held a very high position throughout, really pinning Huesca back. Won possession several times in advanced positions and set moves in motion, maintaining a 94% pass accuracy and assisting the opener.
Pedri (CM) – 7/10 – Picks out little pockets really well and always looks to get his side forward. Managed to find a killer pass this time with a good ball round the corner to assist Griezmann’s wonder-strike.
Jordi Alba (LWB) – 7/10 – Brilliant down the left for his side. Constantly stepped in to win the ball high up the pitch and got forward brilliantly. Unlucky not to have scored, hitting the bar from close range but made a real impact, putting some beautiful deliveries into the box.
Lionel Messi (RW) – 10/10 – Marked a special occasion with another special performance. Two stunning finishes and an inch-perfect assist were the highlights in a creative and typically talismanic performance.
Ousmane Dembele (ST) – 4/10 – Looked sluggish and sloppy on the ball, and failed to make any real penetrative runs to disrupt the Huesca back line before coming off late on.
Antoine Griezmann (LW) – 8/10 – Produced some lovely movement and sharp feet in tight areas throughout, and pipped Messi to goal of the day with an outrageous long range strike for Barca’s second and his first in ten games.
Ronald Araujo (CB) – 6/10
Ilaix Moriba (CM) – 6/10
Trincao (RW) – 6/10
Martin Brathwaite (ST) – 7/10
Riqui Puig (CM) – 7/10