Joao Felix starred on his full debut for Barcelona, scoring and setting up another with an audacious dummy as the hosts romped to a 5-0 victory over Real Betis.
The on-loan Atletico Madrid forward opened the scoring when, after initially mis-hitting Oriel Romeu’s cross, recovered to blitz past the Betis goalkeeper before firing home from a narrow angle.
Before half time the score was doubled when Felix dummied a pass from Andreas Christensen which set up Robert Lewandowski to score.
Just after the hour mark, Ferran Torres extended Barca’s lead by curling a free kick around the wall. Four minutes later, his replacement Raphinia curled a superb effort home from 20 yards.
Nine minutes before full time, Joao Cancelo rounded out the scoring when he turned a defender inside and out before blasting low inside the far corner.
The win lifts Barcelona above Real Madrid on top of the Spanish top-flight, but their Clasico rivals can usurp them with victory over Real Sociedad on Sunday.
TALKING POINT – IS THIS WHERE JOAO FELIX FINDS A HOME?
It is nearly four years since Atletico Madrid bought Joao Felix from Benfica for €113 million but since then there have been few signs the Portuguese star would live up to that fee. The glimpses he showed of exceptional vision, drifting past defenders and glorious touch were sometimes frustrating for those invested in the ballad of Joao Felix, as it appeared he would never reach the heights he promised. His spell at Chelsea was as tantalising and frustrating as his time at Atletico, when the initial impression he would not be a fit with Diego Simeone were quickly confirmed. But could this now be the overdue time when we see the real Joao Felix? The way the crowd reacted when he raced towards goal felt different to when the other players in the Azulgrana side do. Barcelona have certainly been missing flair since their greatest No. 10 left the club two and a half years ago. Joao Felix will never be Lionel Messi, but could he be an heir to Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Laudrup? It still takes a leap of faith, but with his talent it remains a possibility.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – JOAO CANCELO (BARCELONA)
This could easily have gone to Joao Felix if he played a little longer than an hour, but the on-loan Manchester City full back was a force for the whole match. Right back was merely a nominal starting point as he rampaged from one side of the field setting up chances before scoring in style himself. Like his Portuguese compatriot, he could find the Nou Camp a wonderful home beyond a loan spell.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 7; Cancelo 9*, Kounde 7, Christensen 7, Balde 7; Oriol Romeu 7, De Jong 7, Gavi 7; Joao Felix 9, Lewandowski 8, Ferran Torres 7.
Subs: Raphinia 8, Gundogan 6, Yamal 6, Martinez 6, Alonso 6.
Real Betis: Rui Silva 7; Bellerin 5, Bartra 6, Riad 5,Miranda 6; Altimira 6, Marc Roca 6; Ayoze Perez 6, Isco 6, Luis Henrique 6; Willian Jose 6.
Subs: Francisco 6, Ezzalzouli 6, Sancez 6, Rodriguez 6, Cruz 6.
25′ GOAL FOR BARCELONA! Fantastic from Joao Felix. He met a right-wing cross from Romeu with a volley which he didn’t time but pounced on the loose ball, went around the ‘keeper and then fired home from the most narrow of angles.
32′ GOAL FOR BARCELONA! Joao Felix certainly looks like he suits the azulgrana shirt. Here Christensen passes to him with his back to goal and he dummies setting up Lewandowski to run through, give the ‘keeper the eyes and shoot in the other corner.
45+2′ GREAT STOP FROM TER STEGEN! A fine ball from Isco finds Jose in the box and he shoots firmly first time but Ter Stegen saves diving to his right.
62′ GOAL FOR BARCELONA! Ferran Torres takes a free kick and curls a low shot around the wall and just inside the far post.
66′ GOAL FOR BARCELONA! His first touch pushes the ball away from a defender and with his second Raphinia fires an unstoppable drive home.
81′ GOAL FOR BARCELONA! A fantastic strike from Joao Cancelo. He provides such a threat from full back and has been threatening this all game. He takes a ball in space on the right flank and then turns the defender inside and outside and then fires inside the far corner.