Ansu Fati marked his return with a brilliant late goal and Luuk de Jong opened his Barcelona account in a 3-0 LaLiga defeat of Levante.

Luuk de Jong doubled Barca's lead in his fourth appearance for the club following his move from Sevilla after his Netherlands team-mate Memphis Depay opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

An inspired performance from Aitor Fernandez prevented Barca from significantly boosting their goal difference as they totally dominated the game, with under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman watching on from the stands as he serves a two-match ban.

Fati, on as a late substitute, put the icing on the cake in his comeback following 10 months out with a knee injury, finishing superbly in stoppage time as Barca ended a run of three games without victory.

Depay sent Fernandez the wrong way from the spot just six minutes in, having produced great trickery to beat two defenders before being upended by Nemanja Radoja.

De Jong opened his Barca account eight minutes later, finishing clinically with his right foot after Sergino Dest had slipped him in.

Gerard Pique somehow failed to add a third from point-blank range and Gavi was unable to lob an advancing Fernandez, who showed great reflexes to tip the lively Depay's header over the crossbar.

Levante were unable to contain Depay and Fernandez diverted his right-footed drive around the post after some shambolic defending.

Teenager Nico Gonzalez, making his first Barca start, flashed a venomous long-range drive wide and Fernandez thwarted Depay yet again.

Sergio Postigo almost turned the impressive Gavi's cross into his own net before Fati was given a great ovation when he came off the bench with 10 minutes to go.

The 18-year-old looked like he had never been away as he spun away from a defender then beat another before finding the back of the net with a right-footed shot from outside the area.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman believes new signing Luuk de Jong is more dangerous than Neymar from crosses.

LaLiga giants Barca raised eyebrows when they signed Dutch forward de Jong from rivals Sevilla on loan at the end of the transfer window.

De Jong had been linked with a potential return to former club PSV in the Eredivisie and was shunted down to third choice at Sevilla following the signing of Rafa Mir from Wolves.

But late on deadline day, cash-strapped Barca – who already lost superstar Lionel Messi on a free transfer – allowed Antoine Griezmann to depart for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and the Blaugrana replaced the Frenchman with de Jong on a temporary deal for 2021-22.

Koeman hailed countryman de Jong, who he feels is superior to Paris Saint-Germain star and former Barca forward Neymar in one department.

"When there's a cross coming in, Luuk is more dangerous than Neymar," Koeman told NOS.

"He's a different kind of forward to what we have, and I think all teams should have one like him."

De Jong averaged 1.1 headed shots per 90 minutes in LaLiga last season, a figure bettered by only four strikers (minimum 900 minutes played).

Similarly, just four forwards bettered his 0.36 headed shots on target per 90 minutes as well.

What makes that figure slightly more impressive is the fact Sevilla would not be considered a 'direct' team. According to Opta data, Julen Lopetegui's men only recorded 35 'direct attacks' last season, the second-fewest in the division, whereas Barcelona's 67 was the third-highest.

A direct attack is defined as a sequence that begins just inside the team's own half and has at least 50 per cent of movement towards the opposition's goal and ends with a shot or touch in the box, so while that does not necessarily mean Barca smash long balls to the front man constantly, it does suggest Koeman's setup will provide de Jong with chances to be useful.

Koeman added: "I told the club last year [that I wanted to sign de Jong].

"I wanted to be able to change my forwards. If the game calls for someone like Luuk, then he'll play.

"We lost Antoine Griezmann on the last day of the window and only had three forwards.

"I first made contact with Luuk on August 8 and, even before that, I wondered why Barcelona didn't have a guy like that."

New Barcelona striker Luuk de Jong accepts he is "different" to the club's usual style of striker but pointed out Ronald Koeman knows how to utilise him.

De Jong joined Barca on loan from Sevilla at the end of the transfer window with the Dutchman seen by most as a curious option in many senses.

He had been linked with a potential return to former club PSV and was shunted down to third choice at Sevilla following the signing of Rafa Mir from Wolves.

But late on deadline day, cash-strapped Barca allowed Antoine Griezmann to depart for Atletico Madrid and the Blaugrana replaced the Frenchman with De Jong on a temporary deal for 2021-22.

It is a signing that many Barca fans will have deemed underwhelming given De Jong hardly sparkled previously in LaLiga with Sevilla and his skillset is not one that necessarily lends itself to the club's traditional philosophy of short, sharp passing and fluid, possession-based football.

Indeed, De Jong acknowledged he brings qualities that are seemingly at odds with Barca's past.

"I am tall, I am a good header of the ball," he told Barca TV upon his arrival. "As I already said before, I am a player with a different skillset."

De Jong played under Koeman for the Dutch national team, meaning the coach should feel confident about how to get the best out of his abilities.

"Koeman knows that he can use me in the final minutes when he needs a player that's tall and good with his head," he continued.

"That's the kind of player I am. [But] as I showed in Sevilla, I also have other aspects to my game."

Given the cultural significance of the style of play implemented at Barca, De Jong outlining his strengths suit a direct style of play may not go down too well with certain sections of supporters.

But there is no doubt such a brand of football is likely to ensure De Jong brings more to the table at Camp Nou – after all, he averaged 1.1 headed shots per 90 minutes in LaLiga last term, a figure bettered by only four strikers (minimum 900 minutes played).

Similarly, just four forwards bettered his 0.36 headed shots on target per 90 minutes as well.

 

What makes that figure slightly more impressive is the fact Sevilla would not be considered a 'direct' team. According to Opta data, Julen Lopetegui's men only recorded 35 'direct attacks' last season, the second-fewest in the division, whereas Barcelona's 67 was the third-highest.

A direct attack is defined as a sequence that begins just inside the team's own half and has at least 50 per cent of movement towards the opposition's goal and ends with a shot or touch in the box, so while that does not necessarily mean Barca smash long balls to the front man constantly, it does suggest Koeman's setup will provide De Jong with chances to be useful.

His first such opportunities could even come against Sevilla this weekend.

"I'm not worried," he said. "I'm looking forward to playing with all my team-mates. I'm looking forward to playing against Sevilla, and I hope to win also."

Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez were the big names to move late on deadline day, with Atletico Madrid having a busy night.

Griezmann's move to his former club completed a day of outgoings for Barcelona, who sold Emerson Royal and Ilaix Moriba, as well as loaning out Ray Minaj.

Ronald Koeman's Barca did get one player in, however, who will seemingly replace Griezmann in attack.

Barca's LaLiga rivals Real Madrid did not manage to get a mega deal for Kylian Mbappe over the line, despite a reported bid of €200m having been lodged on Tuesday, though Los Blancos did sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga.

Cristiano Ronaldo's move back to Manchester United was confirmed early on, but there was plenty of late action in England, too.

 

Another returning king as Chelsea call on Saul

Romelu Lukaku back to Chelsea. Ronaldo back to United. Now, Griezmann has made a return to one of his former clubs, with the 30-year-old re-joining LaLiga champions Atleti on a season-long loan.

There is an option to make the deal permanent for €40million – just the €80million less than Barca paid for the France forward in 2019.

Replacing Griezmann at Barca is Luuk de Jong, with Koeman turning to his compatriot from Sevilla. Messi to De Jong... not quite the end to the window Barca fans would have had in mind.

Saul, meanwhile, is leaving LaLiga. He has joined Chelsea on a loan deal from Atleti, with an option to buy for a reported £30m.

 

No Madrid move for Mbappe... yet

A third Madrid bid for Mbappe was reportedly lodged, and ignored, on Tuesday, as Florentino Perez's obsessive hunt of the Paris Saint-Germain star proved fruitless.

However, Mbappe is out of contract next year, so he may well be a Galactico soon enough.

One player who will be playing in the famous all-white strip this season is teenage midfielder Camavinga, who has joined from Rennes.

As well as keeping Mbappe, PSG added to their squad, completing a stellar transfer window by signing Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes to fill what has proved a problem position. Pablo Sarabia went the other way.

In Italy, Milan marked a quiet end to the window overall by confirming the signings of Yacine Adli and Messias Junior.

Inter already had their business done, while Juventus confirmed Moise Kean's return on Tuesday morning. The Bianconeri also signed Mohamed Ihattaren, who was then loaned to Sampdoria.

Ronaldo headlines Premier League moves

The early confirmation of Ronaldo's move back to United being complete was the biggest story of the day in England's top flight. It also paved the way for the Red Devils to sell Daniel James, who moved to Leeds United.

Arsenal blocked Everton's attempts to sign Ainsley Maitland-Niles, though Hector Bellerin did leave the Gunners to head to Real Betis on loan. Mikel Arteta's Gunners completed their record-breaking transfer window (in terms of overall spend) with the acquisition of Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna. Earlier in the day, Arsenal loaned out Reiss Nelson and Alex Runarsson.

Their north London rivals Tottenham completed the signing of Emerson from Barca, with Serge Aurier's time at Spurs subsequently being brought to an end by the mutual termination of his contract.

Everton's hunt for a right-back was to no avail. The Toffees did bring in Salomon Rondon on a free transfer, handing the forward a two-year deal with an option for a third. James Rodriguez was involved in a mooted part-exchange deal with Porto for Luis Diaz, but the Colombian star is staying put.

Manchester City rounded off their dealings by sending out seven players on loan. Among them was Patrick Roberts, who was one of three players to join Ligue 1 club Troyes.

Wolves were unable to complete deals for Kieffer Moore or Boubacar Kamara. A late offer from Spurs for Adama Traore was reportedly rejected.

Czech Republic midfielder Alex Kral joined West Ham on loan from Spartak Moscow. He was the Hammers' second signing of the day, with Croatia playmaker Nikola Vlasic having arrived early on.

There were two outgoings at Celtic. Scotland international Ryan Christie signed for Bournemouth, while Crystal Palace bought striker Odsonne Edouard for a reported £15m. The Hoops replaced him with Greece forward Giorgos Giakoumakis.

Luuk de Jong will play no further part in Euro 2020 after the Netherlands striker was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a knee injury.

The Sevilla forward was hurt in training earlier this week following a challenge with Cody Gakpo and Oranje boss Frank de Boer will no longer be able to call on his services.

A statement from the Dutch FA read: "Luuk de Jong is forced to leave the training camp of the Dutch national team. 

"The Sevilla striker injured the inner tube of the knee during training on Tuesday. As a result, the 38-time international can no longer play for the Orange this European Championship."

 

De Jong had only played a bit part thus far for the Dutch, playing 10 minutes as a substitute over the course of the opening two matches against Ukraine and Austria.

However, he has proven a valuable weapon off the bench in the past. Indeed, since making his debut in 2011 no player has registered more than his five goals for the national team as a substitute (level with Memphis Depay).

It marks another injury blow for De Boer, who also lost Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek to a groin issue.

Netherlands boss Frank de Boer accepts it is unlikely Virgil van Dijk will return to action before next season and will not put pressure on the defender to be fit in time for Euro 2020.

Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk has been sidelined since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in October's Merseyside derby against Everton.

The 29-year-old returned to individual training last month, but Klopp reiterated last week he does not expect him to play any part at this year's rescheduled European Championship finals.

But De Boer, who was appointed as Ronald Koeman's successor in September, says the final decision will be made by the player himself closer to the tournament.

"Anything he can contribute to Liverpool and possibly us would be a bonus," De Boer said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"I'm not counting on it at the moment. But if it were to happen, it would be fantastic for the squad. We're going to see. I'm not putting any pressure on him at all. 

"He has to do it himself and has to trust himself. The choice is with him. When the moment comes and we know how he is doing, you go with him to see what he can do.

"Then I have to make a decision about it. We let him take it easy now and continue his recovery work. Things are going well now. Whether that will be enough, we do not yet know.

"He is on the field. There can be setbacks. And setbacks can mean that he cannot play games for Liverpool. Then I can imagine them saying, 'focus on next season'."

The Netherlands start their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign with a trip to Turkey on Wednesday, looking to extend a five-game unbeaten run after ending 2020 on a relative high.

De Boer controversially chose to leave in-form Wolfsburg striker Wout Weghorst out of his squad for the match with Turkey, as well as the qualifiers against Latvia and Gibraltar.

Weghorst has scored 17 Bundesliga goals this season, placing him behind only Andre Silva, Erling Haaland (both 21 goals) and Robert Lewandowski (25) in the scoring charts.

But De Boer has defended his decision to omit the 28-year-old and instead put his faith in Sevilla striker Luuk de Jong, who has four goals in 25 LaLiga outings in 2020-21.

"I had to choose between Luuk and Wout. At the moment I choose Luuk," he said. "I understand very well that it is a very delicate issue - it is also a very difficult issue. 

"Certainly for Wout, but also certainly for me. Because Wout has done just fantastic, but Luuk has also done very well with the Dutch national team. 

"We are in a very short period, then you consider things and I chose Luuk at that moment.

"I also called Wout and that was terribly difficult. He was certainly not happy, let that be clear. That is also normal, but at least he made it as difficult as possible for me. 

"He knocks terribly hard on the door, let that be clear. There are already a few holes in it. It was by far my most difficult decision, but at the moment I choose other players. Some are a bit more multifunctional, for example."

Erling Haaland credited Edin Terzic after he scored twice in a 3-2 comeback victory over Sevilla in the Champions League, saying he has been "talking a lot" with the interim Borussia Dortmund coach.

Terzic, who has endured a difficult spell since taking charge in December, enjoyed an improved performance from his players as they cancelled out Suso's early strike with a goal from Mahmoud Dahoud before a brace from Haaland gave his side a 3-1 lead at half-time.

Luuk de Jong's late strike ensured Sevilla retain some hope of reaching the quarter-finals as they prepare for the return leg in Dortmund, but Haaland reflected on an improved performance from his team-mates.

"I felt like, I don't know if you can say it's down to motivation or passion or whatever, but we were more online today," Haaland, whose side arrived in Seville having won just one of their previous six matches in LaLiga, told DAZN.

"It was good. It was not good to let in two goals, but it is good to score three away goals and take them with us.

"We had a good plan. Edin has been good and I've been talking a lot with him. He said today would be my game and that I would get my chances and I did, so it was an important win."

With Dortmund in action against Schalke in the Bundesliga on Saturday, Haaland added: "We have to recover quickly now. We've got a big game ahead this weekend.

"We have to take this positive mindset into that game because we have to win that one as well, but it was really nice to win tonight in Spain."

Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui felt his side deserved more from the game, which saw them defeated for the first time in 11 matches in all competitions.

Dahoud's strike was the first goal Sevilla had conceded in nine matches, and Lopetegui felt Haaland gave the visitors the edge.

"The result is not good," he told Canal Sur. "But there is one game left and we hold on to that possibility.

"We have not deserved to lose, but in the end they have one of the best players in the world who has made a difference in three situations that we could have avoided.

"It is a very harsh punishment. We deserved the draw."

Erling Haaland extended his record of scoring against every side he has faced in the Champions League as he struck twice to help Borussia Dortmund come from behind and win 3-2 at Sevilla. 

The visitors fell behind to an early Suso strike in the first leg of the last-16 tie but then laid siege to the Sevilla goal, scoring three times in 24 minutes. 

Haaland assisted Mahmoud Dahoud to score his first Champions League goal before the Norway striker then netted a brace to take his Dortmund tally to 10 in the competition, though Sevilla had the last word with a late Luuk de Jong strike in reply. 

No player has reached double figures in the Champions League for a club in fewer games than Haaland's seven, and while the form guide may have made Sevilla favourites, he showed his match-winning qualities on Europe's biggest stage.

Suso opened the scoring after seven minutes when his attempt made it beyond Marwin Hitz via a wicked deflection off Mats Hummels' foot. 

Sevilla then invited pressure, allowing Haaland to skip through midfield and pick out Dahoud, whose powerful drive hit the top right corner of the net. 

Haaland stormed through Sevilla's half again eight minutes later, only pausing to play a one-two with Jadon Sancho before sliding in to convert from close range. 

The 20-year-old finished a sweeping Dortmund move on the cusp of half-time to extend the lead, applying a first-time left-footed finish to Marco Reus' pass. 

Sergio Escudero rolled a shot narrowly wide from 10 yards as Sevilla sought to claw their way back in during the second half, while substitute Oscar Rodriguez sent a curling free-kick crashing onto the post. 

De Jong did volley a Rodriguez pass into the far corner of the net from close range with six minutes left on the clock to narrow the deficit - a goal that could prove crucial if Sevilla can get a result in the return fixture. 
 

What does it mean? Sevilla's dream hanging by a thread 

With a place in LaLiga's top four looking well within reach this season, Sevilla had their sights set on making it to the Champions League quarter-finals for only the second time. 

Head coach Julen Lopetegui will have to summon a drastic improvement from his players if they are to overturn the deficit in Dortmund, where they will need at least two goals to have a chance of progressing. 

Haaland fast becoming Europe's best 

Haaland has scored 18 Champions League goals since the beginning of the 2019-20 season, putting him level with Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski as the competition's top scorer in that period. 

Sevilla forwards fall flat 

Despite lining up with a front three, Sevilla mustered just two shots on target in the first half and the same number again after the interval – a tally that does not bode well for the second leg, despite the late strike from De Jong reducing the deficit. 

What's next? 

Dortmund travel to Schalke for a game against the Bundesliga's bottom club on Saturday, while Sevilla are not in action again until they face Osasuna in LaLiga on Monday. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.