Lionel Messi wasn’t about to let his first match since March end without him getting a goal.
With Spain’s top soccer league back in action this weekend after shutting down in March because of the global coronavirus pandemic, the world’s top player dominated from start to finish in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Mallorca, notching two assists and scoring the final goal of Saturday’s match deep into second half stoppage time.
Arturo Vidal sent the visitors on their way with his opener just over a minute into the contest. Messi then took over, setting up strikes by Martin Braithwaite and Jordi Alba on either side of halftime before finally breaking free and finding the net himself with just moments remaining in the contest. It was the Argentine icon’s La Liga-leading 20th goal of the season — the 12th consecutive year he’s reached that threshold, a new record:
The comprehensive away victory gave table-topping Barca 61 points, putting them five clear of second place Real Madrid, which hosts Eibar Sunday in its own return to action. Like all La Liga matches for the rest of the campaign, Saturday’s game in Mallorca was played without supporters in attendance. That somehow didn’t stop one fan clad in Messi’s Argentina national team jersey from getting not just into Estadi de Son Moix, but onto the field early in the second half:
How did a fan get on the pitch when there is no fans allowed in the stadium!?!?!? 🤔😂 pic.twitter.com/XJwNphshtV— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) June 13, 2020
The loss was expected but lo less damaging for relegation candidate Mallorca. The 18th-place Vermilions remain in the drop zone, although they’re just one point away from safety with 10 matches left to play.
Meantime, Barcelona celebrated the return of Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez in addition to the lopsided triumph. Suarez made his first appearance of 2020 following a knee injury when he entered off the bench with just over a half-hour to play.
Suarez, Messi and the rest of Barca’s star-studded sqaud will return to action on Tuesday, when they meet another bottom-feeder in 19th-place Leganes.