Jan. 26 (UPI) — Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho showed some brief brilliance in his debut showing for Barcelona.
Coutinho did not score in the 2-0 win Thursday at Camp Nou in Barcelona, but did display his superior ball control and dribbling ability. He subbed into the game in the 68th minute, coming onto the pitch for Andres Iniesta.
It didn’t take long for him to make an impact. Coutinho received a pass just outside of the box in the 70th minute. He dribbled in against Spanish midfielder Victor Sanchez Mata before cutting the ball in with his right boot. He then touched it over to his left, similar to a pinball punch.
His second touch slipped between the defender’s legs for a nutmeg, but Coutinho was fouled on the play and fell down.
“It was a great evening for me,” Coutinho said after the match. “A very special evening to play my first minutes … I’m very happy and very excited. The way that the fans gave me a welcome and players and coaching staff and everybody, has made me very happy.”
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored in the victory. Barcelona faces Alaves at 2:45 p.m. Sunday in a La Liga matchup at Camp Nou in Barcelona.
“He is a very top-quality player,” Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said. “We wanted to him to attack quickly. When he is close to the goal, you get that sensation because he has a great shot on…he can help us.