Franck Kessie had a goal ruled out as he made his La Liga debut for Barcelona in their 0-0 draw with Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou on Saturday.
Kessie, who joined Barcelona as a free agent from AC Milan this summer, was a second-half substitute, coming on in the 73rd minute to replace Pedri, and was a constant menace for the Rayo defence with his forward runs, linking up well with Ansu Fati and Robert Lewandowski.
With the Blaugrana pushing for a goal, Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski punched a Lewandowski shot into the path of Kessie who slotted the rebound in the bottom left corner and as he wheeled away in celebration, but the assistant referee flagged him for offside.
The Ivory Coast international acted as the link between defence and attack, adding some creativity that had been lacking from Barcelona’s starting midfield three of Pedri, Gavi and Sergio Busquets.
He had 15 touches and completed all of his 10 passes, won his two duels while managing two shots. Kessie lost possession twice as he managed 18 minutes on his La Liga debut.
Barcelona looked much improved going forward after Kessie and Frenkie de Jong came on in the second half, and the former Milan and Atalanta midfielder will be hoping that the cameo appearance will convince coach Xavi to hand him a start in their next league game away to Real Sociedad next Sunday.
Meanwhile, Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also a half-time substitute, coming on eight minutes from time to replace Jordi Alba as Xavi switched to a back three while beefing up his attack.
Aubameyang nearly had an instant impact as he fired the ball towards the right side of the goal from close-range but his shot was blocked by one of the defenders, two minutes after his introduction.
The former Arsenal captain had four touches of the ball, managed just one shot while completing his two passes.
With Xavi preferring to start with Lewandowski upfront, Auba might have to contend with a reduced role even though speculation continues linking him with a transfer to Chelsea.
Barcelona ended the game with 10 men after Busquets saw red in added time for a high elbow, with Rayo almost pulling off a shocker shortly after, when Salvi Sanchez had the ball in the net before it was cancelled for offside.