Lionel Messi scored a goal and contributed with two assists as the La Liga leaders Barcelona secured a comfortable 4-0 win away to the struggling Real Mallorca on Saturday, making a perfect comeback to action after Spainish football's three-month break due to the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.
The defending champions got off a brilliant start when the Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal converted with a diving header in the second minute of the match as the Danish international footballer Martin Braithwaite scored his first goal for the Catalan club later in the first half.
Messi Scores in Comeback Fixture
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 with a header. The Argentine then completed the scoring with a deflected strike in stoppage time, netting 20 league goals for the 12th season in a row.
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. "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 game was played behind closed doors to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus, but a fan wearing an Argentina shirt somehow made it on to the pitch, only to be swiftly taken away by security guards.
Suarez Made His First Appearance After 6 Months
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.
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.
(With agency inputs)