Barcelona Take Narrow Advantage into Second Leg

August 24, 2012

Barcelona gained a 3-2 first leg lead against Real Madrid in the Super Cup at the Camp Nou on Thursday night. Vilanova’s team was superior throughout, notching two well-taken goals via Xavi and Pedro, together with a Messi penalty. But Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a free header at the start of the second half for the visitors, and Di Maria robbed Valdés to score at the end.

In a scoreless first half, Real Madrid were happy to retreat deep into their own territory and try to catch Barça on the break. Barcelona settled quickly, and were soon finding a some space, especially down the left through Iniesta who was in fine form, keeping possession well and making himself constantly available for his teammates. He created the first half-chance when his powerful cross from the left just evaded the boot of Alexis at the back post.

The first real opportunity fell to Messi and arrived after lovely interplay between Dani Alves and Xavi. Barça’s captain for the night sent Alves on a run down the right flank – the Brazilian cut the ball back to Messi, who could only fire just wide from the edge of the box.

Messi then showed quick-feet to dance past Arbeloa and get a shot away, but it tricked low past the right-hand post. On the half-hour mark it was Pedro’s turn to get involved; he drove a left-footed shot in from 25 yards, but Casillas reacted quickly to push it over the bar.

Real Madrid had managed to preserve the clean-sheet going into the break, but were starting to look a little ragged – Sergio Busquets was on end of some late challenges, most notably by Arbeloa who caught him high on the leg with his studs.

The second half was far more gripping. Barcelona should have had a penalty early on when Arbeloa brought him down clumsily next to the byline on the right. But directly after, Madrid opened the scoring with their first real chance – Özil swung a corner in, and Cristiano Ronaldo bundled ahead of Busquets to nod home from six yards.

But no more than 30 seconds had passed before Barcelona drew level. Mascherano found Pedro’s incisive run from deep, and the winger side-footed a clinical finish past Casillas.

Later, after a sustained period of pressure, Barcelona won a penalty when Iniesta was brought down by a crude Sergio Ramos tackle. Messi then found the bottom-right corner with his penalty to hand the home team the lead.

By now Barcelona were looking rampant, and started carving Real Madrid open at will. With ten minutes to go Iniesta cut in from the left, waltzed past two challenges and posted Xavi through for the midfielder to slot beneath Casillas and make the score 3-1.

There was a sting in the tail near the end, when some loose ball-control by Valdés allowed Angel Di Maria to steal in and score a barely merited second goal for the visitors.

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