Triumphant return for Fati

September 27, 2021
Barcelona’s Ansu Fati celebrates after scoring his side’s third goal during a Spanish La Liga  match between Barcelona and Levante at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain yesterday.
Barcelona’s Ansu Fati celebrates after scoring his side’s third goal during a Spanish La Liga match between Barcelona and Levante at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain yesterday.

MADRID (AP):

Wearing the No. 10 jersey that used to belong to Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati made a triumphant return from a long injury lay-off yesterday, scoring a goal and giving Barcelona fans hope for the future.

Fati, who hadn't played in more than 10 months because of a knee injury, scored in stoppage time to seal a 3-0 Spanish league win over Levante that helped ease some of the pressure on Barcelona, following a three-match winless streak.

The 18-year-old Fati was loudly cheered by the crowd at the Camp Nou Stadium when he entered the match in the 81st minute, then profusely celebrated after scoring with a low shot from outside the area.

He has been one of Barcelona's most promising stars and is seen by many as a player who can help the Catalan club overcome Messi's painful departure to Paris Saint-Germain.

"I'm proud to be able to wear this number after Leo did," Fati said. "I'm thankful for the club and for the team captains to have given me this opportunity. It's not a pressure for me. I'm just grateful for being able to wear this number that gave so much for the club."

It was Fati's 14th goal in 44 matches with Barcelona, and his first since the "clasico" against Real Madrid at Camp Nou last October. He ran near the stands after the goal to thank his relatives.

THANKFUL

"I'm thankful to everyone in my family who suffered during all these months," he said. "I'm thankful to everyone at the club and to the fans. They've all supported me greatly."

Fati's initial recovery time from his left-knee injury was about four months, but there were several setbacks in the recovery process and he needed four surgeries to fully heal.

Fati debuted with the first team in 2019 as a 16-year-old. He eventually became the youngest scorer for Barcelona and for Spain's national team.

Other results: Mallorca 2 Osasuna 3; Rayo Vallecano 3 Cadiz 1; Real Sociedad 1 Elche 0; Betis 2 Getafe 0.

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