- Barceona hit five against Belgian side Antwerp in their Champions League clash
- Joao Felix continued his promising start by netting twice for the Spanish giants
- Robert Lewandowski and Gavi also struck in a thumping win for boss Xavi
He never did this when he went to Chelsea on loan. Joao Felix lit up another Barcelona performance, scoring twice as they beat Royal Antwerp 5-0.
Gone is the sulk who was benched all summer by Diego Simeone while he waited for his agent Jorge Mendes to find him a new club. And there is no sign of the underwhelming forward who failed to spark at Stamford Bridge.
Instead Barcelona – who have now won their two games since he arrived 10-0 on aggregate – seem to have signed a man fit to lead the team from the front giving them the quality and maverick showmanship, with end product guaranteed that has been missing perhaps since Lionel Messi left.
He scored twice in the 70 minutes he was on the pitch. The first came after 11 minutes after Gavi, Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan swapped passes on the edge of the area. When the ball reached Felix he sent a right foot shot from just inside the penalty box through the legs of Toby Alderweireld and inside Jean Butez’s near post to make it 1-0.
Inside 20 minutes it was two and this time Felix was the creator although chief architect was Frenkie de Jong. It was the Dutchman’s pass that sent the loanee down the left channel. He twisted, turned and picked out Lewandowski who scored with a side-foot volley at the back post. It was his 100th goal in 139 European club games.
Things went from bad to worse for Mark van Bommel’s team two minutes later when they found themselves 3-0 down still only having faced two shots. Raphinha crossed from the right and the ball went past Butez via a deflection from Jelle Bataille.
Arbnor Muja gave Marc-Andre ter Stegen a shot to save just before the break but Barcelona were comfortable at 3-0 at half time.
This was Royal Antwerp’s first Champions League game having previously only played the old European Cup. For Barça it was their 20th straight season but their first match at the Lluis Campanys Stadium. It was going considerable better for the home team than the away team.
Barcelona were playing with De Jong anchoring midfield frequently aided by Joao Cancelo, and with Gundogan and Gavi getting forward to support the front three. The latter three were all involved when the fourth went in. Gavi smashed it past Butez to round off a move that Cancelo had started. He, like his compatriot has made a fantastic start.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Cancelo (Roberto 76), Kounde, Christensen, Balde, Gundogan, De Jong (Romeu), Gavi (Lopez 58), Raphinha (Yamal 68), Lewandowski, Felix (Torres 68)
Subs not used: Martinez, Pena, Alonso, Astralaga, Casado
Goals: Felix 11, 66, Lewandowski 19, J Bataille OG 22, Gavi 54
Antwerp: Butez, Bataille (Kerk 74), Alderweireld, Coulibaly, Wijndal, Vermeeren, Keita, Muja (Valencia 83), Ekkelenkamp (Yusuf 61), Balikwisha (De Laet 61), Janssen (Ilenikhena 60)
Subs not used: Ejuke, De Wolf, Van Den Bosch, Lammens
But it’s Felix stealing the show and he made it three goals in two games with a back post header from Raphinha’s cross.
He had ghosted in behind Lewandowski and finished past Butez. It was his last touch before he was given a standing ovation of the pitch as Lamine Yamal replaced him becoming Barcelona’s youngest ever player in the Champions League aged 16 years, and 68 days. He almost scored from Lewandowski’s assist but sent his shot just the wrong side of the post.
There were other chances and Lewandowski should have scored at least one more. But there will be few complaints. Barcelona have a new merlin and he has put the magic back into Xavi’s team.