Barcelona 3-0 Levante: Fati on target on Blaugrana return in emphatic win

By Sports Desk September 26, 2021

Ansu Fati marked his return with a brilliant late goal and Luuk de Jong opened his Barcelona account in a 3-0 LaLiga defeat of Levante.

Luuk de Jong doubled Barca's lead in his fourth appearance for the club following his move from Sevilla after his Netherlands team-mate Memphis Depay opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

An inspired performance from Aitor Fernandez prevented Barca from significantly boosting their goal difference as they totally dominated the game, with under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman watching on from the stands as he serves a two-match ban.

Fati, on as a late substitute, put the icing on the cake in his comeback following 10 months out with a knee injury, finishing superbly in stoppage time as Barca ended a run of three games without victory.

Depay sent Fernandez the wrong way from the spot just six minutes in, having produced great trickery to beat two defenders before being upended by Nemanja Radoja.

De Jong opened his Barca account eight minutes later, finishing clinically with his right foot after Sergino Dest had slipped him in.

Gerard Pique somehow failed to add a third from point-blank range and Gavi was unable to lob an advancing Fernandez, who showed great reflexes to tip the lively Depay's header over the crossbar.

Levante were unable to contain Depay and Fernandez diverted his right-footed drive around the post after some shambolic defending.

Teenager Nico Gonzalez, making his first Barca start, flashed a venomous long-range drive wide and Fernandez thwarted Depay yet again.

Sergio Postigo almost turned the impressive Gavi's cross into his own net before Fati was given a great ovation when he came off the bench with 10 minutes to go.

The 18-year-old looked like he had never been away as he spun away from a defender then beat another before finding the back of the net with a right-footed shot from outside the area.

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    The 30-year-old has also yet to assist a goal in his 439 minutes on the field and was substituted off shortly before the hour mark in Saturday's 2-1 league win over Crystal Palace.

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    "He is the one who makes players around him play better," Ten Hag said ahead of Thursday's Premier League meeting with Leeds United.

    "As a team we have to work better to anticipate his movements because his movements are good, and quite a lot of times he was close [to scoring]. 

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    By comparison, United team-mate Marcus Rashford has scored three goals from an xG of 1.98 in that period.

    "It is not just about scoring as an individual but scoring from the team," Ten Hag added. "The team has to win. He is doing a very good job at this moment in several aspects."

    Weghorst is set to start against Leeds – the first of two league meetings between the sides in the space of four days – as Anthony Martial is once again ruled out with a hip injury.

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  • Koeman: Gakpo made Liverpool move too early Koeman: Gakpo made Liverpool move too early

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    After an impressive World Cup that saw him score three goals in five games in helping the Netherlands to the quarter-finals, Gakpo joined Liverpool from PSV in January for a reported fee of around £40million (€45m).

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    Cody Gakpo's decision to move to Liverpool at such a young age has not served him well, suggests his national team head coach Ronald Koeman.

    After an impressive World Cup that saw him score three goals in five games in helping the Netherlands to the quarter-finals, Gakpo joined Liverpool from PSV in January for a reported fee of around £40million (€45m).

    However, the 23-year-old forward, who also contributed to 21 goals in 14 Eredivisie matches this season, has endured a tough start to life in England.

    He has failed to find the net in his first six games as Liverpool have won just one of their seven matches in all competitions since the turn of the year.

    Koeman, in his second spell as head coach of the Netherlands after taking over from Louis van Gaal, is concerned Gakpo's move to an underperforming team at just 23 years old is hampering his development.

    Koeman told a YouTube show hosted by former footballer Andy van der Meyde: "He has ended up in a team that is not doing well.

    "If you don't score or you're not important and you don't win any matches, it's very difficult, especially for a young player.

    "If that was someone aged 28, with experience, it would be different."

    Gakpo is not the only Netherlands star to struggle with a new club, with midfielder Ryan Gravenberch yet to start a Bundesliga match for Bayern Munich since signing from Ajax prior to this season.

    Koeman feels the inferiority in quality of the Eredivisie in comparison to the top leagues in Europe is making it difficult for young stars to flourish after taking the leap.

    "The level in England is higher than in the Netherlands," Koeman added.

    "But they are also young boys, aren't they? Like Gravenberch going to Bayern and not playing. Then that is difficult."

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