Lionel Messi scores the first goals for Barcelona since the transfer saga in a 3-1 win in a pre-season friendly against Catalan rivals Girona on Wednesday night.
Philippe Coutinho, who hit the bar early in the game, gave Barca the lead with 21 minutes on the clock after Messi had played a defense-splitting pass through to Francisco Trincao on the right and the Portuguese squared to hand the Brazilian a simple finish.
Messi, operating in a central role in a 4-2-3-1 formation, then made is 2-0 just before the break when he turned on the edge of the area and lashed a fierce drive in off the post with his weaker right foot.
That was his first goal for Barca since the summer saga which saw him tell the club he wanted to leave, before ultimately deciding to stay, but there was another just around the corner.
After Samu Saiz slotted past Neto in the opening minute of the second-half following a terrible pass by Frenkie de Jong in his own half, Messi hit a low shot into the net with his left foot from outside the area on the right to restore Barca’s two-goal advantage in spectacular style again.
Coach Ronaldo Koeman made nine changes after 63 minutes as only goalkeeper Neto (who will start the season as Marc-Andre ter Stegen recovers from knee surgery) and defender Ronald Araujo stayed on.
Pedri twice came close to scoring with low shots which were pushed just past the post by Girona goalkeeper Jose Suarez, with the 17-year-old impressing as he had in the 3-1 win over Nastic Tarragona on Saturday. Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite also came close in the closing stages.
After back-to-back 3-1 wins, Barca is now in action against Elche in the Gamper Trophy at Camp Nou on Saturday, before kicking off their La Liga campaign at home to Villarreal on September 27.