Barcelona, Aug 15 (EFE).- Amid a teamwide depression over the departure of soccer icon Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona romped to a 4-2 win over Real Sociedad in their season debut match with a great performance by the team’s new triumvirate of Memphis Depay, Antoine Griezmann and Martin Braithwaite, the latter of which scored twice.
Memphis was on top of things and played a key role for the hosts right from the first minute of play at Camp Nou, with 20,384 cheering fans in the stands for the first time in the year, five months and eight days since coronavirus pandemic gathering restrictions forbade in-person soccer attendance.
Although lacking their long-time striker, Barcelona came out with an intense fervor, pressuring Real all during the first half, and it was team captain Gerard Pique in the 19th minute who scored first, with Braithwaite sinking another one in first-half extra time to make it 2-0.
Braithwaite was on the scene again after the break for the 3-0 in the 57th minute, and – with the match seemingly sewn up nice and tight – that was when Ronald Koeman’s boys let down their guard a bit, allowing a rather decimated Real to up its game, scoring the next two tallies.
Goals by youngster Julen Lobete in the 82nd minute and a 30-meter free-kick from team captain Mikel Oyarzabal three minutes later brought the score to 3-2.
But a draw was not in the cards, with Braithwaite assisting on a counterattack by Sergi Roberto in extra time for Barca’s fourth goal.
Barcelona: Neto; Dest (Emerson, min.70), Eric Garcia (Araujo, min.83), Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets (Nico Gonzalez, min.83), De Jong (Sergi Roberto, min.71), Pedri; Memphis (Lenglet, min.89), Griezmann and Braithwaite.
Real Sociedad: Remiro; Zaldua (Gorosabel, min.66), Aritz (Pacheco, min.81), Le Normand, Aihen; Zubimendi, Merino, Januzaj (Barrenaextxea, min.46), Portu (Lobete, min.66); Silva (Bautista, min.46) and Oyarzabal.