Injuries to Lionel Messi and Barcelona’s other top attacking players gave a 16-year-old from Guinea-Bissau the rarest of chances to bring a stunned home crowd to its feet in a 5-2 Spanish La Liga rout of Valencia.
Ansu Fati became the youngest player to score at the Nou Camp on Saturday when he made his first start for the defending champions, who were without Messi for a fourth game this season.
And Fati needed only two minutes against Valencia to write his name into the club’s history a second time when he rifled in a pass from Frenkie de Jong.
Ansu Fati's first goal for Barcelona. He is going places pic.twitter.com/BJ49CUncSZ
Five minutes later he returned the assist to the Dutchman, who netted his first for Barca after his off-season arrival from Ajax.
The goal and assist make him the youngest player in La Liga history to ever achieve the feat.
Ansu Fati (16 years and 318 days) is the youngest player to score as a starter in La Liga history
Prodigy ⭐ pic.twitter.com/B2ZoyUpvQr
“It is not easy for anyone to play for Barca, even less so for someone as young as Ansu Fati … It is not normal for him to score on the first ball, assist in the second,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.
“Everything will be normalised, we are interested in him getting to know himself, that he realises that this is very complicated.
“Wherever you are, the player who earns his place is the one that plays, there is no secret, the coaches want players to come out; if they are young and have energy you use them.
“Ansu has qualities that suit us, we will see the potential he has.”
16-year-old Ansu Fati has a goal and an assist in less than 10 minutes ? pic.twitter.com/N5Lf9QGAsT
“I do not care if Ansu Fati’s start has been compared with Messi’s,” he added.
“We know that the balloon will start rising now but we will deflate it, it is up to us to protect the player.”
Kevin Gameiro pulled one back in the 27th minute but the hosts dominated the second half, scoring three times before Maxi Gomez got Valencia’s second in stoppage time.
Gerard Pique restored the two-goal advantage in the 51st minute before Luis Suarez, who hadn’t played in a month due to injury, netted Barcelona’s fourth and fifth goals after replacing Fati with half an hour remaining.
Fati — who in just his second appearance in the first team earlier this season became the youngest player to score in La Ligafor Barcelona at the age of 16 years and 304 days — received a huge round of applause when he left the pitch and the fans chanted his name.
Ansu Fati needed 3 La Liga games to score his first 2 goals.
Lionel Messi needed 13 games. pic.twitter.com/36nNAqnm9b
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