Memphis Depay went some way to repaying Gerard Pique as Barcelona started life without Lionel Messi by beating Real Sociedad 4-2 in their first game of the LaLiga season.
Depay, Eric Garcia and Rey Manaj could only be registered by Barca on the eve of Sunday’s game at Camp Nou because Pique took a substantial pay cut, ensuring the cash-strapped Catalan club met LaLiga’s salary cap limit.
Impressive debutant Depay set up Pique for the opening goal after chants of ‘Messi’ reverberated around the stadium in the 10th minute of the Blaugrana’s first game since his sensational move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Martin Braithwaite was on target at the end of the first half and added a second after the break before late goals from Julen Lobete and Mikel Oyarzabal set up an unlikely tense finale.
Sergi Roberto eased the nerves with a fourth Barca goal in injury time as they started the campaign with a richly deserved victory.