La Liga, Nou Camp - Barcelona 4 (Suarez 27', Vidal 32', Dembele 35', Messi 78') Sevilla 0
Barcelona closed the gap on Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with a 4-0 win over Sevilla that saw them finish the match with nine men.
Ernesto Valverde made a number of changes to his team, with Jean-Clair Todibo starting alongside Gerard Pique at the back. Nelson Semedo started at left back, while Antoine Griezmann was dropped to the bench for Ousmane Dembele and Arturo Vidal favoured over Sergio Busquets.
Sevilla had three glorious opportunities to open the scoring in the first half, but they were all spurned by Luuk de Jong who is still looking for his first goal for his new club since signing from PSV Eindhoven in the summer.
De Jong was made to rue those misses as Barcelona scored three times in eight minutes. Luis Suarez broke the deadlock with a stunning overhead kick before Vidal prodded home an Arthur cross in behind the opposition defence to make it 2-0.
It was 3-0 not long after when Dembele cut inside his marker and guided a low finish past Tomas Vaclik. The match was as good as finished at this point, but there was still time for Lionel Messi to score his first goal of the season, curling a trademark free kick home with 12 minutes left.
A frenetic finish saw Barcelona reduced to nine men after debutant Ronald Araujo was shown a straight red card for hauling down Javier Hernandez as he surged through on goal before Dembele was flashed a second yellow for protesting. However, this did nothing to affect the final outcome, with Barca just two points behind Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 06: Ousmane Dembele of FC Barcelona looks on during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at Camp Nou on October 06, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - Have Barcelona eased their reliance on Sergio Busquets?
Valverde’s decision to rest Busquets was the subject of much discussion before kick off. This was the third time that such a call had been made and the last two times had coincided with defeats to Athletic Club and Granada. However, Barca’s midfield unit of Arthur, Frenkie de Jong and Vidal worked well together. Is it possible that they have finally weaned themselves off their dependence on Busquets?
MAN OF THE MATCH - Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
Pressing questions have been asked of the Uruguayan striker this season with many suggesting that the curtain should be brought down on his time as Barcelona’s starting centre forward. However, this was a demonstration of why Suarez is still so important to the Catalans. With Messi still finding match sharpness, it was Suarez who gave Barca energy in attack, opening the scoring with a sensational overhead kick. How many times will he prove his doubters wrong?
Barcelona - Ter Stegen 6, Pique 7, Todibo 7, Semedo 8, Roberto 6, Arthur 7, Vidal 8, de Jong 7, Messi 7, Suarez 8, Dembele 6. Subs - Rakitic 6, Araujo 4, Busquets 5.
Sevilla - Vaclik 5, Carrico 5, Carlos 7, Fernando 5, Reguilon 5, Rodriguez 5, Banega 6, Navas 5, Ocampos 7, Torres 6, de Jong 3, Nolito 5. Subs - Hernandez 5, Jordan 5, Munir 4.
Ronald Araujo (FC Barcelona), Javier Chicharito Hernandez (Sevilla)
Image credit: Getty Images
13’ De Jong tests Ter Stegen! The Dutch striker is still looking for his first goal for Sevilla, but he came close there! Ocampos got the ball in, De Jong met it first time, but Ter Stegen made the instinctive save at his near post!
20’ Sevilla should be ahead! That was a golden opportunity for the away team! De Jong was unmarked at the back post and was found with a cross, but the Dutch striker put it across goal and out of play.
27’ Another big De Jong chance! This first half is turning into a nightmare for the Dutch striker! Ocampos found De Jong at the back post, but he headed down into the ground and over the bar!
27’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Sevilla: Wow! What a magnificent goal by Suarez! Semedo got to the byline and staged a left-footed cross up into the middle and the Barcelona striker swivelling and struck an acrobatic overhead kick into the back of the net from about six yards out. That was special!
32’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Sevilla: There's a second goal for Barcelona and the Catalans are in control of this match now! Arthur picked out the run of Vidal in behind the Sevilla defence and the Chilean stuck out a toe to divert it into the back of the net! Vaclik couldn't read it. VAR confirms the goal.
35’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla: Barcelona are running away with this now! They have scored three times in just eight minutes. This time it's Dembele who cuts inside, losing Carlos and then guides a cool finish past Vaclik in the Sevilla goal. This might be game over already!
51’ Off the woodwork! It's just not happening for de Jong! Arthur was shrugged off the ball on the edge of his own penalty box, but the Sevilla striker drags his shot and strikes the post. He should have scored. Again.
78’ GOAL! Barcelona 4-0 Sevilla: Messi is up and running for the season! Barcelona won a freekick in a dangerous position 20 yards out from goal and the Argentine, in trademark fashion, curled a strike over the Sevilla and into the back of Vaclik's net!
88’ SENT OFF! Whoops! That wasn't in the script for the debutant! Araujo has been given his marching orders for bringing down Hernandez as the Mexican striker raced through on goal. Not how the youngster dreamt it.
89’ SENT OFF! Lahoz has now sent off Dembele as well! The French winger wasn't happy with the decision to send off Araujo and he will now have an early bath too. Mayhem in the final few minutes.
Ousmane Dembele scored the 300th goal (in all competitions) of Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona reign. The French winger also scored the 200th goal.
Barcelona have not lost any of the 23 La Liga games in which Arturo Vidal has started.
Lionel Messi scored his first goal of the season for Barcelona.