Rey Manaj picks up a trick in a 4-0 friendly match

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Barcelona started their pre-season with a 4-0 victory against third-class Gimnastic on Wednesday night, with substitute Rey Manaj’s second half trick stealing the show.

Ronald Koeman was without a whole series of his big hitters for the collision at Johan Cruyff Stadium, with the squad members competing in Euro 2020 and the Copa America not yet returned to the club service.

FULL TIME! pic.twitter.com/aqLWPPh5fe

– FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 21, 2021

Names like Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Pedri were then absent from the team magazine, which means that both Sergi Roberto and Miralem Pjanic started in midfield despite continued doubts about their respective future at the club.

Barça’s weakened team struggled early to break the deadlock and despite the dominant possession and peppery Manu Garcia’s goal, they could not find a breakthrough and were forced to go to half time with the score somewhat embarrassingly locked at 0-0.

Koeman wasted time shaking things up and made no less than 11 substitutions at halftime when he sent out a completely different team than the one that started the competition.

The changes gave immediate results, with Manaj grabbing the first goal of the game with an hour away. After collecting the ball with his back to goal, the former Inter man swung and fired an unstoppable effort from a sharp angle, leaving the newly introduced goalkeeper Alvaro Gonzalez with absolutely no chance.

Barcelona had to wait until the 85th minute to put the result without a doubt, with youngster Alex Collado doubling his side with a powerful low run that took a deflection before coming into the back of the net.

ABSOLUTE ?????? ❗?

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– FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 21, 2021

After holding on for so long, Gimnastic crumbled after Barça made it 2-0, with Manaj beating his second night just a minute later to make it 3-0 for the home side.

It was time for Manaj to complete his hat trick in the 90th minute when he struck home from the penalty spot and gave Koeman’s side a comfortable 4-0 victory to kick off his campaign before the season.

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