Four months after signing with FC Barcelona, Sergio Aguero finally made his debut for the Catalan club, capping off a resilient 3-1 home victory over Valencia on Sunday.
Five minutes into the game, Barca and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen were left stunned by a thunderous strike from outside the box by Valencia fullback Jose Luis Gaya that put the visitors ahead.
Barcelona were coming off two defeats before the international break — 2-0 at Atlético Madrid in the league and 3-0 at Benfica in the Champions League. The club had won only once in their last six matches in all competitions.
However, rather than being bogged down, Ronald Koeman’s men upped the ante immediately. Soon Ansu Fati found the back of the Valencia net with an absolute worldie of a goal and brought Barca level. The 18-year-old darted past the Valencia defense and curled a shot in from the right-hand corner of the opposition box past Jasper Cillessen between the posts.
Later in the half, Fati set up the penalty kick converted by Memphis Depay to put Barcelona ahead just before the break.
In the second half, Philippe Coutinho, marred by injuries since returning to Barcelona, sealed the victory from close range in the 85th for his first goal with the Catalan club in nearly a year. American defender Sergiño Dest made the pass for the Brazilian.
Dest came off in the final minutes to allow the debut of Aguero, who was signed by Barcelona from Manchester City for this season but was yet to play as he had been recovering from injury.
Meanwhile, coach Koeman was back on the bench after a suspension of two league matches following a red card for complaining.
Barcelona has begun a three-game home stint that Koeman called key to getting the team back on track. It will next play a critical Champions League game against Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday and then the first “clásico” of the season against Real Madrid.
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“It was a very important win, we are in a key week in the season,” Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong said. “We started it well by earning points and gaining confidence, that’s very important for the club right now.”
Barcelona is two points behind Madrid, Sevilla, Osasuna and defending champion Atlético Madrid. Madrid and Atlético had their weekend games postponed because some players were on international duty with their national teams.
With inputs from the Associated Press