Barca levelled almost immediately when Griezmann latched on to a long ball and lobbed Sergio Asenjo. The French forward then added his second in the 35th minute, firing home after a mix up in the Villarreal defence.
On paper, a trip to Europa League semi-finalists Villarreal was one of the toughest games Barca had left this season. To go a goal down and bounce back so quickly and so impressively, therefore, will have pleased coach Ronald Koeman. Barca are now level on points with second-placed Real Madrid with a game in hand and just two points back from leaders Atletico Madrid. However, with Atletico still due to visit Camp Nou, Barca know that six wins will win them the league.
If they are to win the league, a source of goals other than Messi would be handy. In Griezmann, they have found that in 2021. His brace against Villarreal took him to 18 for the season — he only scored 15 in his first season at the club — with 13 of them coming in the current calendar year.
For the second game running, Barca took their foot off the gas in the second half and failed to kill the game off earlier.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Koeman has found a settled system to help Barca close the gap on Atletico and propel them into a position to win the league with just six games to go. The Dutch coach deserves huge credit for that because to be in this position was unthinkable in December.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 — Made a smart save with his feet from Etienne Capoue in the second half but wasn’t worked too hard.
DF Oscar Mingueza, 7 — Solid in defence and played a lovely ball over the top to set up Griezmann’s equaliser.
MF Sergino Dest, 5 — Got forward well but wasn’t completely switched on in defence before being taken off at the break.
MF Frenkie de Jong, 6 — Worked hard in attack and defence but his performance was marred by two missed chances.
MF Sergio Busquets, 7 — Another good performance from the midfielder, who’s really returned to form in recent months. Good in possession and read the game well in defence.
MF Pedri, 6 — Didn’t do a lot wrong but doesn’t look as fresh as he did earlier in the season.
MF Jordi Alba, 6 — Was a menace on the left, creating lots of chances for his teammates, but paid the price for slipping in the build-up to the Villarreal goal.
FW Lionel Messi, 6 — A quiet game by his standards against a Villarreal side who dished out some rough treatment, including the Trigueros challenge that led to a red card.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 8 — Took both of his goals really well to quieten a few critics. Could have had a hat trick on another day but was denied by Sergio Asenjo.
MF Sergi Roberto, 5 — Came on for Dest for his 300th Barca appearance but seems a second behind his teammates.
MF Ilaix Moriba, 6 — Looks at home in the Barca side, who benefit from how keen he is to get into the box and take on shots.
FW Ousmane Dembele, N/R — Returned late on following a pubis injury with some nice footwork and an assist for what should have been a De Jong goal.
MF Ronald Araujo, N/R — Came on for the final three minutes to add more bodies in defence.