All that glitters is Griezmann's brace

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann throwing glitter in the air before spreading his arms LeBron James-style to celebrate his second goal in the 5-2 rout of Real Betis on Sunday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann throwing glitter in the air before spreading his arms LeBron James-style to celebrate his second goal in the 5-2 rout of Real Betis on Sunday. PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • Antoine Griezmann copied Lionel Messi to score a goal and then imitated basketball star LeBron James to celebrate it.

The Frenchman scored twice on his home debut at the Nou Camp to lead Barcelona to their first Spanish La Liga win of the season with a 5-2 rout of Real Betis.

His 50th-minute second goal, a Messi-inspired curler off his left foot, was just out of reach of goalkeeper Dani Martin.

Coming five minutes after half-time on Sunday, that goal gave the hosts a 2-1 lead after Betis had taken an early lead.

"I see Messi doing that in practice and I tried to copy him," he said as Messi and Luis Suarez watched from the stands because of injuries.

To celebrate the goal, he went near the fans behind the goal, picked up glitter from a man who appeared to be a staff member, and threw it in the air with his arms spread in the style of James' chalk-toss routine over the years.

"I like LeBron's ritual and I tried to imitate him," he said.

Carles Perez, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal also scored for Barcelona. Nabil Fekir and Loren Moron were Betis' scorers.

Barcelona lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Aug 16 for their first opening-day defeat in a decade with Messi injured while Suarez got hurt before half-time.

Griezmann, who joined from Atletico Madrid for €120 million (S$185 million) in the summer, was lacklustre in the first match. Following a call from coach Ernesto Valverde for him to be more involved, the forward took charge on Sunday, turning in Sergi Roberto's cross after 41 minutes.

"I have to admit it was a really important day for him, given the absentees we had," said Valverde, who was also without injured forward Ousmane Dembele.

"He responded brilliantly. He dropped deep to help the midfield, but also pushed on and could lose his man brilliantly.

"For us, it's fundamental to have players who can clock up goals and the fact Griezmann debuted at the Nou Camp and scored is great news."

ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2019, with the headline 'All that glitters is Griezmann's brace'. Print Edition | Subscribe