Barcelona Shown Little HospitalityNovember 10, 2011
FC Barcelona achieved a narrow 1-0 first leg victory in their Copa del Rey tie against local club CE L’Hospitalet on Wednesday night. The Segunda B team, from the third tier of Spanish football, offered stout resistance, with their ‘keeper Jose Moragon producing some saves of the highest quality to keep the score-line down. In the end it was a long-range strike from Andres Iniesta that gave Barcelona the advantage.
Though a city in its own right, Hospitalet de Llobregat is practically a suburb of Barcelona, ensuring one of the shortest away trips the Barça will have to make. With most of the club’s foreign internationals and U21 players away with their national teams, Guardiola had to select a team made up mostly of Spanish senior players, accompanied by a sprinkling of younger talent. Among the less experienced players on show were Jonathan Dos Santos at right-back, Andreu Fontas at centre-half, and Barcelona B star, Christian Tello on the right wing.
As is so often the case in cup competitions, the lower league team raised its game during the first half, much to the delight of the Hospi faithful at La Feixa Llarga. It was Barcelona who were dictating terms, but the home team was doing well to make life difficult, switching quickly diligently between defence and attack.
There were good attempts by David Villa and Keita, but Moragon in the Hospi goal was in great form and his full-stretch save from the latter was especially impressive. Hospitalet replied with a firmly struck free-kick, which Pinto stopped and then gathered on the second attempt.
Barcelona were finding it difficult to create much space, but as the half went on they began to make inroads – Cesc played a one-two with Tello before seeing his attempt saved at the near-post. The opening goal was a moment of inspiration from the classy Iniesta – he picked the ball up 30 yards out and crashed an effort into the top right corner, leaving Moragon with no chance. And then at the end of the first half Puyol rose highest at the far post, but his fine header hit the upright.
Early in the second half Barcelona started playing with a little more fluidity. Sumptuous passing moves produced chances for David Villa and Cesc Fabregas, but neither player could provide the necessary finish. Clearly unaccustomed to the high tempo, the home side retreated further into their own half during the second period, with a few of their players succumbing to cramp.
Moragon had to be at his best to keep out a fiercely-struck free-kick by David Villa, and later in the game reacted sharply to beat away a deflected long-range shot by Barça’s Asturian striker. In reply Hospitalet managed a dangerous-looking header by substitute Pedraza early in the half. But their best opportunity arrived in the closing stages, when the same player got on the end of a quick break, forcing a spectacular reaction save from the otherwise underworked Pinto.
0-1 Iniesta (min 42)