Ousmane Dembele made his first appearance for Barcelona since November 2019 on Saturday and took just five minutes to find the back of the net.
The France international was named in Ronald Koeman’s starting XI for a pre-season friendly against Nastic and did not take long to make an impression.
Sergi Roberto did well down the right to cross the ball in for Dembele to convert from close range after a clever Pedri dummy for his first goal of 2020.
The goal comes after a tough year for the Frenchman. He tore a hamstring in training while on his way back from injury in February which forced him to miss the rest of the 2019-20 campaign.
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Koeman Names Strong Team for First Friendly
Koeman named a strong team for his first game in charge. Captain Lionel Messi started the match despite only returning to training at the club on Monday after his failed attempt to leave the Camp Nou over the summer.
The Argentine started in attack along with Dembele and France international Antoine Griezmann, who wore the No. 7 shirt for the first time since taking over the iconic squad number from Philippe Coutinho.
Griezmann added Barcelona’s second goal of the evening from the penalty spot just before the half-hour mark after Gerard Pique had been pulled down in the area.
Koeman also started with a strong backline. Pique and Clement Lenglet featured at center-back with Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba on the flanks. In goal Neto came in for injured first-choice Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The Dutch coach went for a mix of youth and experience in midfield. Sergio Busquets started along with 17-year-old Pedri, making his debut since his move from Las Palmas. Carles Alena, back at Barcelona following a loan spell at Real Betis, also got the nod in the first half.
All Change at Half-Time
Koeman changed his entire team at half-time, as he had promised ahead of the match, and sent out a team packed full of youngsters. U.S. starlet Konrad de la Fuente, new signing Francisco Trincao, Riqui Puig, and Ronald Araujo were all handed 45 minutes to impress.
Barcelona did manage to score again through Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian stroked home from the penalty spot after a cross from second-half captain Nelson Semedo, which ended up in the back of the net, was handled by a Nastic defender.
Coutinho made no mistake with his spot-kick:
Barcelona thought they had added a fourth when Trincao dinked a clever ball in to Konrad who applied an expert finish. However, unfortunately for the young duo the effort was disallowed for offside.
Koeman’s men had to settle for a 3-1 win in the Dutchman’s first game in charge of his new side. The team play again on Wednesday when they take on Girona in another friendly.