Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his first Barcelona goals as they extended their unbeaten run in La Liga to nine matches with victory at Valencia.
Aubameyang, who joined from Arsenal for free on 2 February, was making his first start in La Liga and he slammed in the opener from Jordi Alba’s pass.
Frenkie de Jong tapped in a second and Aubameyang converted from close range, despite a VAR check for offside.
Carlos Soler pulled one back before Pedri curled home superbly from range.
Substitute Pedri’s strike may yet be given as an Aubameyang goal – that would secure his hat-trick – because the ball flicked off the Gabon international’s back on its way to the net.
Aubameyang could also have achieved a hat-trick late on when a ball fell his way in the box, only for home keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili to deny the 32-year-old.
Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said: “Since Aubameyang arrived, he has been working hard. We know he hasn’t played many minutes this season. He is a fabulous player and having him in the squad, having come here for free, is really positive for us.”
Barca manager Xavi will be thrilled with his side’s efficiency as they extended their unbeaten run in the league, which now stretches back to 4 December.
In the opening half, their three shots had produced three goals as Valencia paid for a slack 15-minute spell where Barca’s quick passing simply clicked.
Valencia – now seven games without a win in the league – thought they had made it 3-1 before the break but Soler was denied when VAR ruled out a first ever goal in La Liga because the ball had gone out of play for a throw in.
Soler thrust a diving header in after half-time but Pedri’s whipped effort ended any hope of a comeback.
“It’s been an important victory today,” added Busquets. “In the first half we were very efficient. That allowed us to dominate the game. It meant we were calm enough to play in our style. I think it was a good performance.
“In other games we have got ahead but have not been able to dominate and rivals have got back into the game. Today we did the job.
Disclaimer: Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Charity Reporters or any employee thereof.