2019-2020 LaLiga
  • Arturo Vidal (2')
  • Martin Braithwaite (37')
  • Jordi Alba (79')
  • Lionel Messi (90'+3')

Lionel Messi scores as Barcelona handle Mallorca in return to La Liga action

Lionel Messi scored and grabbed two assists as La Liga leaders Barcelona eased to a 4-0 win away to struggling Mallorca on Saturday, making the perfect return to action after Spanish football's three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The champions got off to a flying start when Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal scored with a diving header in the second minute, while Danish international Martin Braithwaite scored his first goal for Barca later in the first half.

Jordi Alba then added a third goal for Barca in the 79th minute after latching on to a through ball from Messi, who had also set up Braithwaite's goal. The Argentine then completed the scoring with a deflected strike in stoppage time.

"We controlled the game and it was a great performance after not competing for three months," goalscorer Alba said.

"We now have 10 must-win games to go and we are really looking forward to them."

The win takes Barca on to 61 points after 28 games, five clear of nearest challengers Real Madrid, who host Eibar on Sunday in their first game back.

The game was played behind closed doors to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, but a fan wearing an Argentina shirt somehow made it on to the pitch, only to be swiftly taken away by security guards.

"There was a lot of uncertainty going into the game given the situation of starting [the league] again," Barcelona manager Quique Setien said after the match. "There were times when we lost the ball but that will improve with games. I was really happy with the performance overall and coming through this game gives us confidence."

Luis Suarez made his first appearance since injuring his knee six months ago, coming off the bench in the second half, while his fellow Uruguayan Ronald Araujo hit the post shortly before Alba struck.

"I think the satisfaction of seeing Luis back on the pitch," Setien said in a news conference when asked to choose his favourite part of the performance.

"In addition to that, his performance during the 30 minutes he played was at a really high level. There were four of five moments of real quality. Coming back like that is important for him -- and for us.

"I would also highlight Martin's goal. It was a big day for him, scoring his first for the club. So I am hugely satisfied for him."

Mallorca occupy the final relegation spot in La Liga but despite the heavy loss they gave a decent account of themselves, with 19-year-old Japanese playmaker Takefusa Kubo pulling the strings.

Kubo tested Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the first half while Ante Budimir, Lago Junior and Abdon Prats all flashed shots just wide of the target after the interval.

Spanish Primera División Standings

1 Atletico Madrid 36 +40 80
2 Real Madrid 36 +37 78
3 Barcelona 36 +47 76
4 Sevilla FC 36 +23 74
5 Real Sociedad 36 +17 56
6 Real Betis 36 -2 55
7 Villarreal 36 +13 55
8 Celta Vigo 36 -2 50
9 Athletic Bilbao 36 +7 46
10 Granada 36 -16 45
11 Osasuna 36 -9 44
12 Cádiz 36 -20 43
13 Levante 36 -10 40
14 Valencia 36 -6 39
15 Alavés 36 -22 35
16 Getafe 36 -16 34
17 Huesca 36 -18 33
18 Real Valladolid 36 -19 31
19 Elche 36 -25 30
20 Eibar 36 -19 30