Thierry Henry finally had the Barcelona public eating out of his hand with a superb one-man show that destroyed Real Murcia and gave Frank Rijkaard's team their most emphatic win of the season.
Chants of "Henry" reverberated around the Nou Camp for the first time since his presentation last June, there was praise from team-mates, and the predictable "Ooh La La!" front page headline in Barcelona's daily paper Sport ... and he didn't even score. Playing on the left of Barça's three-pronged attack – a position indefinitely vacated by the unfit and underperforming Ronaldinho – Henry served up the sort of fantasy football supporters had envisaged when he signed, and created two of Barcelona's three second-half goals.
Scorer of the first-half opener, Eidur Gudjohnsen, admitted the Frenchman had been unstoppable. "He was fantastic and there is more to come – that still isn't the best I have seen him play", he said. "His body movement is so good it is difficult for defenders to stop him when he goes at maximum speed."
It was that running at pace that proved too much for Murcia. Three times in three minutes just inside the second half Henry went for the jugular down the visitors' right-hand side.
The first time he cut inside and was just wide going for goal himself. The second time he pulled the ball back for Krkic Bojan to tap in from just inside the six-yard box for Barça's second, and although nothing came of his third almost identical run and cross it kick-started the chorus of "Henry". He then chased a pass inside the full-back from Sylvinho before crossing for Samuel Eto'o to score the third. "I am sure if he can keep playing the same way then he will be one of the most important players for us," said Gudjohnsen, who admitted that he never doubted the Frenchman would come good after six weeks off to rest his troublesome back.
He said: "Earlier in the season he was playing with pain and was maybe a little bit restricted. I think he decided to sort his back out properly and start afresh."
When Henry scored in a cup game last week he made a point of running to Gudjohnsen on the touchline to celebrate and the former Chelsea man confirmed the bond between the two players was strengthened by both having had their credentials questioned this season.
"When you are scoring goals ... everybody loves you but you really find out who your friends are when things are not going so well and maybe that was a sign of appreciation," the midfielder said. Gudjohnsen it was who broke the deadlock volleying in Gianluca Zambrotta's 26th-minute cross. And after Bojan and Eto'o had scored, Eto'o got his toe to a Giovani cross to complete the rout.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Zambrotta, Puyol, Thuram, Sylvinho; Xavi, Marquez, Gudjohnsen (Iniesta, 65); Bojan (Giovani, 82), Eto'o (Pedrito, 88), Henry.
Real Murcia (4-4-2): Notario; De Coz, Mejia, Ochoa (Arzo, 69), Peña; De Lucas, Pablo Garcia (Iñigo, 67), Movilla, Abel (Richi, 78); Baiano, Goitom.
Referee: C Gomez.