Antoine Griezmann copied Lionel Messi for the goal and LeBron James for the celebration but it was his night for Barcelona on Sunday after he scored twice in a 5 – 2 win over Real Betis .
Griezmann imitated the basketball superstar by tossing confetti into the air to celebrate his second at Camp Nou , a curling effort into the corner that he said was inspired by watching Messi.
“ I saw Leo do this in training , so I tried to copy him , ” said Griezmann .
“ And for the celebration , I like the ritual that LeBron did so we tried to do it as well. ”
Yet Griezmann was the star , if only for the night with Messi in the stands , the Argentinian still short of fitness following a calf injury .
A brilliant Barcelona performance also delivered a resounding response to the doubts arising from their defeat by Athletic Bilbao last weekend , among them a reliance on Messi, the need for Neymar and the future of Ernesto Valverde as coach.
But as Carles Perez , Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal made it three , four and five , the gloom was forgotten , along with Nabil Fekir ’ s opener in the 15th minute , that had Betis level at half – time .
“ After a defeat, there is always a big reaction , ” Griezmann said .
“ We really wanted to play another game and when so many players are missing , the team steps up . ”
Loren Moron slammed a late strike into the top corner for Betis but by then the game was up as Barca ensured no further ground was lost on Atletico Madrid , who beat Leganes 1 – 0 earlier on Sunday, or Real Madrid , who were held to a 1 – 1 draw on Saturday by Real Valladolid .
Barcelona will hope to have Messi back for the trip to Osasuna next weekend but with Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele both out for longer , Griezmann ’ s statement display was timely.
Whether it also affects the club ’ s attempts to prise Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain remains to be seen .
“ I have to admit today was an important day for Antoine , ” said Valverde.
The crowd also enjoyed a goal from the 21 – year – old Perez , making his first Barca start , and a substitute appearance from Anssumane Fati , who at 16 became the second youngest player ever to play for the club in La Liga .
Sergio Busquets was at fault for Betis ’ opener as he gave the ball away , allowing Fekir to drive in his debut goal since he moved from Lyon in July .
But Barca were undeterred and after Rafinha missed an excellent chance to equalise , Griezmann took over , volleying in on the stretch four minutes before half – time , past the weak hand of Dani Martin .
If Griezmann ’ s first owed something to the goalkeeper , his second was unstoppable .
He collected the ball 25 yards out and used Sidnei as a marker to bend his shot around the defender and inside the far post.
Griezmann ran to the corner where confetti was poured into his hands . He threw it into the air above his head.
Barca were relentless as Perez steered a third into the bottom corner and Alba made it four , latching onto a superb Busquets pass inside the full -back .
There was still time for two scintillating strikes , the first from Vidal , who was slid in by Griezmann , and the second by Loren , who was given too much space .
It was no more than a consolation .
Barcelona stay behind Atletico , who maintained their perfect start with another 1 – 0 victory , this time over Leganes as Vitolo came off the bench to score a second – half winner at Butarque .
Joao Felix, Atletico ’ s 126 million – euro ($ 140 million) buy from Benfica and much – hailed replacement for Griezmann , was again quiet but again delivered the match ’ s most memorable moment .
The 19- year – old’ s perfectly-timed pass provided set Vitolo free while Felix had been picked out by Kieran Trippier , who was faultless on his second Atletico start .
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