Felix and Cancelo strike as Barcelona shred Real Betis
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Felix and Cancelo strike as Barcelona shred Real Betis

Joao Felix sent Barcelona ahead on his first start for the club as they crushed Real Betis.
Joao Felix sent Barcelona ahead on his first start for the club as they crushed Real Betis.

BARCELONA - New arrivals Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo struck their first goals for Barcelona in an impressive 5-0 rout of Real Betis on Saturday in La Liga.

Portugal forward Felix fired Barcelona ahead, with further goals from Robert Lewandowski, Ferran Torres and Raphinha sinking the visitors, before Cancelo polished off the rout with a fine individual effort.

Barcelona's emphatic victory places them provisionally top of the table, a point clear of rivals Real Madrid who host Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Barcelona played with a vibrancy they lacked at times last season, even as they lifted La Liga, warming up for their Champions League opener on Tuesday against Royal Antwerp.

Felix was at the core of it with an impressive display after Xavi handed him and compatriot Joao Cancelo their first starts for the club following loan moves on deadline day and both quickly impressed the home fans.

Betis, lining up with a back four composed only of former Barcelona players, played with attacking intent, unlike many other teams who will visit the temporary Olympic Stadium home of the Spanish champions.

Luiz Henrique sent a rasping effort across the face of goal and Ayoze Perez blasted into the side netting as Manuel Pellegrini's side started well.

However three of Barcelona's summer signings combined to put the hosts ahead after 25 minutes.

Cancelo won the ball back with a thumping tackle and Oriol Romeo dropped a cross into the area for Felix.

The on-loan Atletico forward controlled the ball, knocked it past goalkeeper Rui Silva and then squeezed home clinically from a tight angle.

Lewandowski doubled Barcelona's lead when he ran onto Andreas Christensen's pass and slotted home, but the goal was crafted by Felix, whose clever dummy allowed the ball to find the Polish striker.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen produced a superb save to deny Willian Jose after Isco cleverly found the Brazilian forward near the penalty spot.

Silva foiled Felix just before half-time at the end of a quick counter-attack, as Barcelona sought to put the game out of sight.

Torres, selected ahead of teen starlet Lamine Yamal, netted the third, with a low free kick around the wall -- the first Barcelona have scored since a Lionel Messi strike in May 2021.

Raphinha, who replaced Torres, quickly added the fourth just moments after entering the fray with a drilled effort from outside the area into the bottom corner.

On-loan Manchester City defender Cancelo gleefully added the fifth to cap an excellent individual display, skinning former Barcelona left-back Juan Miranda and driving beyond the despairing Silva.

Whether new-look Barcelona can match Europe's best remains to be seen but this rampant display highlighted the improved attacking quality at their disposal this season.

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