Martin Braithwaite opened his Barcelona account in style on Saturday as the Catalan giants resumed their 2019-20 La Liga campaign against Real Mallorca.
The Denmark international struck on 37 minutes with an emphatic finish from inside the penalty area to put Quique Setien’s side 2-0 up before half-time.
Barcelona had made the perfect start to the match when Arturo Vidal opened the scoring after just 67 seconds. The Chile international powered home Jordi Alba’s cross from the left for his seventh La Liga goal of the season.
Braithwaite Started Ahead of Luis Suarez
Braithwaite was a surprise name in Quique Setien’s starting XI for the match. The emergency signing from Leganes was named in attack alongside Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
Luis Suarez, who was recovered from knee surgery, was only named on the bench. Manager Quique Setien had said ahead of the game that the Uruguay international was fit to start but he was wary of playing the 33-year-old for 90 minutes after such a long lay-off.
Braithwaite had made three appearances for Barcelona since joining the club before the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic but had failed to back the back of the net against Eibar, Real Madrid or Real Sociedad.
Braithwaite Follows in Famous Footsteps
Barcelona were quick to congratulate Braithwaite on his first strike for the club:
The striker’s goal also means he becomes just the third Dane to find the back of the net for Barcelona, following in the footsteps of Michael Laudrup and Allan Simonsen.
Meanwhile, captain Messi was credited with the assist for Braithwaite’s effort, meaning the Argentine now has 13 in La Liga for the season.
The Dane spoke about his relationship with Messi ahead of the match in an interview with Sid Lowe at the Guardian.
“Messi takes attention away. People forget to look at what’s happening around him because he’s such a threat. There’s space and we have to understand how to exploit that. Then when you do, [opponents] realise ‘these guys are making runs: watch out’ and then you’re giving space to Messi. It’s about intelligence.”
Barcelona will be hoping that Braithwaite’s goal is the first of many as they go for glory in La Liga and the Champions League.