By Sky Sports News,
Lionel Messi scored his 20th league goal of the season as Barcelona extended their advantage at the top of La Liga to five points after returning to action with a 4-0 victory over Mallorca at the Visit Mallorca Estadi on Saturday.
Quique Setien’s side, playing in their first match since March 7 following the coronavirus pandemic, made the perfect start as Arturo Vidal headed home Jordi Alba’s cross after just 65 seconds.
The visitors extended their advantage in the 37th minute when Martin Braithwaite smashed home his first goal for the club before Jordi Alba (79) latched on Messi’s pass to add a third.
Messi then rounded off an impressive night for Barcelona, scoring his 25th goal of the season in all competitions.
Victory sees Barca move five points clear of title rivals Real Madrid ahead of their return to action against Eibar at home on Sunday (kick off 6.30pm). Meanwhile, Mallorca stay 18th as they continue their fight against relegation.
How Barca returned in style
Barcelona last played 99 days ago when they beat Real Sociedad 1-0, with the Spanish competition suspended soon after because of the global health crisis.
However, it took just 65 seconds for them to make a mark as they enjoyed a dream start at an empty Son Moix stadium. Alba whipped in a perfect cross from the left and Vidal got there first and powered a low header into the back of the net.
That left any gameplan Mallorca may have had in tatters as Barca took control of the game.
But they had to wait until the 37th minute to make their dominance count as Braithwaite opened his account for the club.
The former Middlesbrough striker joined Barca in February in a controversial move from Leganes and had failed to score in his first three games but found the net in style, with a clinical finish after Messi had teed him up with a header.
Mallorca did create a number of openings throughout the game. Takefusa Kubo tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the first half while Ante Budimir, Lago Junior and Abdon Prats all flashed shots just wide of the target after the interval.
Luis Suarez made his first appearance since injuring his knee six months ago, coming off the bench in the second half, while his fellow Uruguayan Ronald Araujo hit the post.
Messi then took control late on as a brilliant through-ball set Alba away for the third in the final 10 minutes.
The Argentinian then completed a productive evening in stoppage time with a trademark jinking run before his finish ended in the top corner via a deflection.
Photo: Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez celebrate Barca’s fourth goal (Sky Sports)