Suarez shines on Atletico debut; Messi wins with Barca

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Atletico Madrid's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez reacts after missing a goal opportunity during the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid against Granada FC at at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on September 27, 2020. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

AP

Madrid

Luis Suarez quickly made an impact at Atletico Madrid. Former teammate Lionel Messi was his usual impressive self for Barcelona.

Suarez, who had his debut on Sunday with Atletico after being told he was not wanted by Barcelona, scored twice and had an assist in the nearly 20 minutes he played in Atletico’s 6-1 rout of Granada.

Messi, who was forced to stay at Barcelona after telling the club he wanted to leave, scored once and helped his team beat Villarreal 4-0 in its Spanish league opener under new coach Ronald Koeman.

It was Messi’s first official game with Barcelona since the club denied his request to leave in the offseason. He was outspoken against the club but had promised to give his best in what could be his final season at Barcelona.

Messi celebrated as usual after scoring from the penalty spot in the 35th minute at the Camp Nou Stadium. He later also played a role in the own-goal by Pau Torres before halftime, as the Villarreal defender tried to intercept a cross by the Argentina great.

Messi missed a few other chances to score in the comfortable opening win for Koeman. The 17-year-old Ansu Fati, one of the players helping to make up for Suarez’s absence in attack, put Barcelona on its way to victory with goals in the 15th and 19th minutes.

Koeman replaced Quique Setisn after the team’s embarrassing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League in August, a result that capped the club’s first season without a title since 2007-08. The former Netherlands coach arrived with the task of revamping the first team squad and immediately told Suarez he was not needed anymore. The Uruguay striker left as Barcelona’s third all-time highest scorer with 198 goals.

“Sometimes change is important for a player,” Suarez said on Sunday. “I’ve been incredibly welcomed at this club. I’ve had a good impression from the start and that shows on the field.”