A Lionel Messi double, a delightful Antoine Griezmann strike and a lovely header from Oscar Mingueza do the damage for Barcelona – and keep them firmly in the title hunt in La Liga as they run out comfortable victory over lowly Huesca at Camp Nou.
Ronald Koeman will have much to be pleased about.
That strange penalty at the end of the first half is effectively the only blemish his side have to show – and after the frustrations of Europe, it is a much needed tonic for the troops. Pacheta still has his work cut out for him.
Messi marked his 767th outing for the club with a supreme strike from distance; his curling effort seemingly appearing from nowhere to clatter in off the underside of the crossbar.
Though finished with more finesse than his PSG strike, this was another Messi goal that would have left supporters in the Camp Nou stunned, had there been any in attendance.
Another word of appreciation for Lionel Messi? Go on then. He’ll be in Qatar next year, surely, with Argentina, in what will be his final shot at the one major honour to elude him in the game.
His goal was the spark Barca needed to secure 4-1 win that moves them to within four points ot faltering La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, whom they still have to host before the end of the campaign.
With a place in the Copa del Rey final already assured, Ronald Koeman’s side are currently dreaming of completing a domestic double.
There are those who will argue that they should be considered strong bets to do so, too.
After the disappointment of Russia, he’ll be determined to make amends – and if he leads his side like this, he’ll have a great opportunity.
However the Catalans were are far from perfect, and on another night Huesca could have scored three if not for a fine Marc-Andre ter Stegen save to deny Pablo Maffeo and a remarkable close-range miss from Rafa Mir either side of the latter scoring a pretty debatable penalty on the stroke of half-time.
But Barca look like they are enjoying their football for the first time in around a year, and no more so was that evident than when Antoine Griezmann took a leaf out of Messi’s book to smash home his own long-range effort in the first half.
Barca made the points safe after the break as La Masia graduate Oscar Mingueza headed home a cross from Messi for the defender’s first goal in the senior ranks.
It was Messi’s seventh assist of 2021 to go with his 17 goals, the latest of which came in the last minute as he curled in a low strike from the edge of the area.
There’s just the one more game for both sides before the spring international week gets underway then.
For Huesca, they return home to face Osasuna. For Barcelona, a trip to Real Sociedad awaits.