Riqui Puig scored his first senior Barcelona goal on Sunday after coming on as a late substitute for the Catalan giants in a comfortable 2-0 win over Elche in La Liga.
The youngster headed home a Frenkie de Jong cross in the 89th minute, and his goal seemed to go down particularly well with team-mate Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman’s face was a picture as the goal went in and afterwards as he joined in the goal celebrations.
Griezmann’s reaction 😂❤️ pic.twitter.com/XW09o5e3Sg
— Navid Molaaghaei (@navidjaaan) January 24, 2021
Image: Griezmann reacting to Riqui's goal. 😍 pic.twitter.com/nc11FQSgui
— barcacentre (@barcacentre) January 24, 2021
— FC Barcelona (@fcbarcelona_fra) January 24, 2021
The World Cup winner also took to social media after the game to celebrate the win with a picture of the two players after the goal had gone in.
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) January 24, 2021
Puig’s goal sealed all three points for Barcelona against Elche after Frenkie de Jong had opened the scoring in the first half for the visitors. The win is Barca’s fourth in a row in La Liga and moves the team back in third, three points behind Real Madrid.
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Praise for Puig
There’s no doubt it’s been a tough season for Puig, who was advised by Ronald Koeman at the start of the season to go out on loan, but his goal should provide the youngster with a big confidence boost.
The strike also seemed to go down well with fellow midfielder Miralem Pjanic who offered Puig a friendly pat on the head by way of congratulations as the 21-year-old was conducting a post-match interview.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 24, 2021
There was also rare praise from coach Koeman too after the full-time whistle in his post-match news conference.
Koeman: Riqui Puig did well when he came on. We want the midfielders getting into the box like that. I like Riqui's attitude. Despite not getting minutes, he enjoys himself when he comes on. For me, he's not a problem
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) January 24, 2021
Puig’s goal means it’s been a good couple of weeks for the youngster. The midfielder also scored the decisive penalty in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final win over Real Sociedad and is certainly making his presence felt at the Camp Nou.
Another Start for Puig?
Indeed the youngster’s goal could be enough to earn him a start in Barcelona’s next game against Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey. Koeman shuffled his pack for Barca’s last match in the competition, offering his young stars and fringe players some rare game time.
Puig did start in the last round against Cornella but was taken off at half-time and replaced by Ousmane Dembele. Koeman explained after the match it had been a tactical switch as he wanted more width. Dembele went on to open the scoring for Barcelona in extra-time.
Yet Puig is likely to return against Rayo and will be hoping he can put in the sort of performance that will given Koeman a real selection headache, particularly seeing as Sergio Busquets is suspended for Barca’s next La Liga match after picking up his fifth booking of the season on Sunday.
Busquets, Pedri, and De Jong have been Koeman’s preferred midfield selection this season, but Puig will be hoping he can force his way into the starting XI. The youngster has already demonstrated his determination to succeed by deciding against going out on loan and staying and fighting for his place at the Camp Nou.