Memphis Depay earned Barcelona a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league on Saturday, helping his team avoid its first defeat in the post-Messi era.
Depays first goal since joining Barcelona showed why coach Ronald Koeman had insisted on his signing for months despite the clubs poor finances that kept it from retaining Lionel Messi.
The Netherlands striker, who arrived as a free agent this summer, gained possession on a rare counterattack from Barcelona after Sergio Busquets recovered the ball. Taking a pass from Sergi Roberto in his stride, Depay blasted a left-footed shot from a tight angle over goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala and into the top of the net in the 75th minute.
Bilbao had gone ahead in the 50th when defender Iigo Martnez headed home one of a slew of corner kicks the hosts generated with their high-paced attack.
Bilbao was unlucky to not have gotten another goal after going close on several attacks led by striker Iaki Williams.
But once their legs began to tire, Barcelona took control. Frenkie de Jong hit the crossbar with an audacious chipped shot from the edge of the box moments before Depay struck the equalizer.
Depay came close to scoring the winner in the 86th after a similar counterattack started by another ball stolen by Busquets, only for his shot to roll past the far post.
Barcelona lost defender Eric Garca in the final seconds of the match after he was shown a direct red card for fouling substitute Nico Williams with only goalkeeper Neto to beat.
Barcelona won its opener by beating Real Sociedad 4-2 last week at Camp Nou, its first since the painful exit of Messi to Paris Saint-Germain.