Robert Lewandowski scored a brace as Barcelona cruised to a 4-1 victory at Real Sociedad on Sunday, their first win of the new LaLiga season.
Spanish teenage sensation Ansu Fati, who has been struggling to recover after a series of knee surgeries in the last two years, came off the bench in the second half and took charge of the proceedings with two assists and a goal.
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The Poland striker, who was celebrating his birthday, opened the scoring in the first minute of the game, rifling in a shot after a great pass from Alejandro Balde inside the penalty area.
Goal Alexander Isak equalized five minutes later after latching onto a pass from David Silva.
Barca struggled to break the deadlock until coach Xavi Hernandez sent on Raphinha and Fati in the 64th minute, with both proving crucial to Barca’s success.
First, Fati assisted Ousmane Dembele with a brilliant heel pass after a fine piece of individual play from Raphinha.
Than Fati finished a beautiful team effort to assist Lewandowski to the third.
Lewandowski returned the favor 10 minutes later, enabling 19-year-old Fati to score Barca’s fourth to wrap up the points.
« It was a difficult game, it always is when you come here, » Xavi said after the match. « We play with more patience, like in the second half, we’re much better. We lacked that in the first half. We spoke at the break about attacking the space better, that is what we needed to do. We deserved to win . It’s a good result for us. We played well in spells. »
The Barcelona coach also addressed the tactical changes he made that had such a big effect on the outcome of the game.
« It depends on the game, how the opposition play, the level of risk required, on many things, » Xavi said. « Today we made attacking changes, bringing on Raphinha and Ansu for Balde and Ferran [Torres].
« We were basically playing with five or six forwards. It is all about risks and how many you need to take. »
Fati has been plagued by injuries since bursting onto the scene for Barcelona at the age of 16 when he became the second-youngest player in LaLiga history, after coming through the youth system at the Catalan club.
He quickly established himself as one of the most exciting young talents in the world, becoming the youngest player to score in the Champions League as well as the youngest to score for Spain.