Barcelona breezed to the final of the FIFA Club World Cup to set up a meeting with Copa Libertadores Champions Santos FC of Sao Paulo. Goals for Adriano (two), Keita and Maxwell helped the Catalan club to a 4-0 win against Qatari Asian Champions League winners, Al-Sadd, who were unable to muster as much as a shot on target throughout the encounter. Barcelona’s celebrations will be somewhat muted by the news that striker David Villa suffered a fractured fibia in the first half.
Guardiola used the game at Yokohama to give an opportunity to his rotation options, with Mascherano starting in central defence, Seydou Keita in central midfield, Adriano at right-back and Pedro on the left wing. It was a match in which Barcelona were never once troubled, but the slightly gauche attempts by the Al-Sadd players to win possession meant that this was a game watched with dread by most Cules.
It took a little longer than the customary few minutes for Barcelona to find their feet here; Al-Sadd defended very deep, and after no more than a couple of days in Japan, Guardiola’s men needed a while to settle. When they did the chances began to flow; David Villa latched on to a deflected clearance on the right side of the area and forced a low save from Mohamed Saqr in the Qatari’s goal.
The breakthrough followed shortly after. This time Barça took advantage of a comical Al-Sadd mix-up. Algerian defender Nadir Belhhadj nudged the ball back to his ’keeper when it would have been easier to clear. Mohamed Saqr struggled to get the ball under control, leaving Adriano free to steal in and score from no more than a yard out.
Minutes later David Villa suffered his injury. It occured when the Asturian striker attempted to control a loose ball in the Al-Saad area, under pressure from a defender. He looked uncomfortable straight away, but his calm reaction to the incident belied the gravity of the injury, as he now faces a number of months of the sidelines.
Alexis entered the fray in his stead and Barcelona continued to carve chances. On the stroke of half-time Thiago posted Adriano through with a beautiful reverse pass, and the Brazilian utility man found the bottom-left corner, although once again Mohamed Saqr might feel disappointed with his attempted save.
The second half was one of total Barcelona control. Messi was the man who came to the fore. He saw a shot deflected narrowly wide and a free-kick bound for the corner well saved. On the hour mark he was at the centre of a move to make it 3-0, producing a defence-splitting pass to play in Seydou Keita, whose neat finish across Mohamed Saqr nestled just inside the post.
The final goal came from a surprise source; the ever-lively Thiago found Maxwell on the left side of the area, and the Brazilian produced a powerful shot with his left-foot into the bottom-right corner.
0-1 Adriano (min 25)
0-2 Adriano (min 43)
0-3 Keita (min 64)
0-4 Maxwell (min 81)
Barcelona have landed a major blow on bitter rivals Real Madrid, winning 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabéu. Goals from Alexis, Xavi and Cesc ensured a gutsy comeback and memorable result for Barça after sloppy play by Valdés had gifted Madrid an early goal through Benzema.
Perhaps the only surprise in Guardiola’s lineup was the absence of David Villa, who dropped to the bench – surely a result of the exciting form of Cesc and Alexis in recent weeks. And in some ways the formation was less overtly attacking than expected, with Cesc and the electric Iniesta joining and instigating attacks, but retaining a certain degree of discipline. Alexis was always furthest forward, probing across the frontline, while Messi operated in his deeper central role.
Barcelona got off to a dreadful start; Real Madrid pressed an early backpass to Valdés, and the ‘keeper made a hash of his kick, tamely finding Di Maria on the edge of the area. Busquets made two desperate blocks, but both fell to Madrid players – the second dropped at Benzema’s feet and the striker smashed his easy finish home from five yards with just a minute on the clock.
Understandably, Barça took time to find some composure. There were a few hairy moments for their backline, but it would be Messi who had the next real chance. He seized on a Ramos slip, jinked past Pepe, but saw his low effort saved on the stretch by Casillas. Two chances followed for Madrid – first for Benzema, whose header was well gathered by Valdés; then for a subdued Cristiano who had a close-range opportunity but sliced it wide.
From here Barcelona started to find their feet, keeping possession for longer spells. And by half an hour they were back in the game. Messi was the architect, bursting forward from the halfway line, dodging three tackles and posting Alexis through on goal. Under pressure from Pepe and Coentrão the Chilean found the bottom-right corner with precision.
With Barcelona’s ascendancy continuing into the second half it was probably no surprise that Real Madrid were becoming more forceful in the 50-50s, and the rancour that had plagued last season’s fixtures resurfaced intermittently. Ramos, Alonso, Pepe and Diarra were all booked, as increasingly dangerous tackles started to fly in.
Then, after a period of sustained possession, Xavi lashed a volley on goal from outside the area. Marcelo got a block in, but the ball skewed off his shin and span beyond the despairing reach of Casillas. Real Madrid were finding it increasingly difficult to get forward, but still posed a threat; Cristiano somehow managed to head a cross by Kaka wide from six yards.
The home team was punished almost instantly by a slick counter-attack. Messi set Alves free down the right wing, and Cesc stooped to meet his deep cross at the back-post to take the score to 3-1. There were subsequent chances for both teams, but the result never looked in doubt for Barcelona
1-0 Benzema (min 1)
1-1 Alexis (min 29)
1-2 Xavi (min 52)
1-3 Cesc (min 65)
FC Barcelona triumphed 4-0 at the Camp Nou against Belarusian side BATE Borisov on Tuesday night, despite fielding a side composed mostly of young Barça B players. Midfielder Sergi Roberto opened the scoring in the first half, before Martín Montoya and two goals from Pedro completed a commanding performance.
With qualification and top spot firmly secured, Guardiola was able to offer a tantalising glimpse of Barcelona’s future, giving game time to highly rated young talents like Sergi Roberto, Martín Montaya and Rafinha, the brother of Thiago, who also started the match tonight. Meanwhile Isaac Cuenca continued his recent run in the first team and demonstrated throughout the evening that he has what it takes to hold his position down as the season wears on.
From the first whistle, Barça asserted control of this encounter – with just a couple of minutes on the clock Rafinha worked some space in the area and got a shot away, but BATE ‘keeper Gutor pushed it wide at the near post.
Rafinha was operating in Messi’s withdrawn forward position and looked very lively in the opening stages, also heading a Maxwell cross just over. The ever-improving Cuenca lashed a 25-yeard shot just wide, and also instigated a fine move that Sergi Roberto fired just wide.
At the other end Marc Bartra showed great presence of mind, flicking an awkward BATE cross over the head of an onrushing attacker.
Minutes later it was Sergi Roberto who would open the scoring – Thiago strode forward, and when his attempted pass to Pedro was cut out, Sergi was on hand to tuck the ball clinically into the bottom corner.
Martín Montoya, the right-back also had an impressive night, overlapping time and again to get into dangerous attacking positions. He might have had an assist in the first half, but went one better on the stroke of the hour, when he played a fabulous one-two with Isaac Cuenca before taking the ball in his stride a producing a calm finish into the roof of the net.
By now Barcelona were playing with supreme confidence and it was a joy to watch, especially against what should be considered relatively seasoned opposition. The move of the night came a matter of minutes after the second goal. After a delightful passage of pass and move, Cuenca got possession at the byline and cut the ball back for Pedro, who finished first time through Gutor’s legs.
Isaac Cuenca was pulling the strings for his tea, and BATE had no answer. With ten minutes to go he picked up the ball from just outside the area and smashed a shot that clipped the corner of the post. And it would be Cuenca who played a role in the final goal of the night as well. In the closing staged he drew a foul from BATE midfielder Volodko, and Pedro sent the ‘keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot to add extra gloss to an impressive night’s work.
1-0 Sergi Roberto (min 34)
2-0 Montoya (min 58)
3-0 Pedro (min 61)
4-9 Pedro (min 86)
Barcelona were back to their free-scoring best on Saturday night, trouncing Levante 5-0 at the Camp Nou. Cesc opened the scoring, and then made it two with a fine header after half an hour. Cuenca got the third, before Messi and Alexis completed the rout.
Guardiola reverted to a 3-4-3, which hadn’t been seen for a couple of months. Puyol started between Abidal and Mascherano, behind an all-Spanish midfield four of Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets and Cesc. At the apex of the side were Alexis, Messi and youngster Isaac Cuenca.
This was a match in which Barcelona never looked troubled; they controlled possession from the first minute, and the fluency that was so lacking a week ago at Getafe appears to have been recovered.
The first goal, just four minutes into the game, epitomised Barça’s rediscovered confidence. Messi fired a pass into the feet of Andres Iniesta, and the ever-stylish midfielder produced a perfect back-heeled flick to thread the ball through to Cesc in the clear, who in turn produced a clinical low finish past the stranded Munúa.
Xavi and Messi went close with free kicks; the latter was parried by Munúa into Puyol’s path, but the veteran defender just couldn’t make a connection. At any rate, his side was combining well, and Levante’s backline was forced into a series of rash tackles, leaving three of four with bookings by the half–hour mark.
After yet another foul on the edge of the penalty area, Xavi whipped in a free-kick that Cesc met with a smart glancing header that flew into the top corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance. The game was then put beyond doubt with a few minutes of the first half remaining. Messi embarked on one of his classic right to left dribbles before feeding Iniesta on the edge of the area, who in turn laid the ball off for Isaac Cuenca. Barça’s latest young star took his tally for the season to two, and made it three on the night for his team with a low curling shot, into the bottom right corner.
Valdés then had to react quickly to keep Kone out, but Barcelona were comfortable going into the break.
The second half was more of the same for els Culés, apart from personnel; Puyol had been withdrawn for Alves after colliding with Kone, and Keita replaced Sergio Busquets in the midfield.
Levante did manage to create a chance early on though, when del Horno rose to head a Javi Venta free-kick goalwards, but Valdés equal to the effort, pushing it round the post.
Barcelona were quick to reassert themselves – Dani Alves spotted Messi free on the right side of the area, and when the little Argentine went one-on-one there would be only one outcome, with Barça striding to a four goal lead. Five minutes later Alexis added another, finishing a slick passing move with an attempted lob that deflected off del Horno’s back and clipped the underside of the crossbar.
1-0 Fábregas (min 3)
2-0 Fábregas (min 32)
3-0 Isaac Cuenca (min 36)
4-0 Messi (min 53)
5-0 Alexis (min 59)
FC Barcelona strolled past Rayo Vallecano on Tuesday night, beating the team from Madrid 4-0. Alexis Sánchez was one form, scoring two well-taken goals, the first of which was an impressive curled effort. Villa added the third after a slick passing move, and Messi made it four with a trademark solo effort.
Barça fans were handed some welcome good news in the build up to the match, learning that the ever-influential Andrés Iniesta would make his comeback. He joined Keita and Xavi in the midfield, sitting behind a potent attack of Villa, Messi and Alexis. Iniesta nearly marked the occasion early on with a spectacular goal from the halfway line, but his effort was just kept out by Cobeño.
Perhaps heartened by fellow Madrid club Getafe’s achievements on the weekend, Rayo began the match at full throttle, pressing and presumably hoping to take advantage of any hangover for Barcelona. A deep, floated cross found Guinean striker Lass free at the back-post, but his volley hit the side-netting. The 19 year-old was a real nuisance in the opening exchanges, showing pace and willingness to chase lost causes.
Cobeño was then forced back into action by Barcelona, the improving Alexis slipped Alves through, and his cross was deflected goalwards and only kept out on the stretch by Rayo’s ‘keeper. A swirling free-kick nearly caught Valdés out at the back-post.
Then, after a prolonged spell of possession, Barcelona took the lead; Xavi angled a pass to Alexis on the left angle of the area, and the Chilean forward curled a delightful shot in off the far post.
Rayo almost responded in kind. Michel brought the ball down in the area, but pressure from Abidal saw him shoot over.
From then it was all Barcelona, and the home team enjoyed what was perhaps a long overdue slice of luck; Messi fired a pass into Xavi’s feet on the edge of the area. The midfielder miscontrolled, but the ball landed at the feet of Alexis who produced a composed finish with the outside of his boot.
Then Villa capped the satisfying half Guardiola’s men, when he tapped home to make it 3-0 after a Piqué drove forward and released Dani Alves, who squared for the Asturian striker.
The second half was barely underway when Lionel Messi took centre stage. As he so often does, the diminutive Argentine picked the ball up by the right touchline and powered forward; he beat a defender to go one-on-one, and slotted past Cobeño to take the score to 4-0 and end the match as any kind of contest.
With the match in the bag, Guardiola could afford to withdraw Xavi, Inesta and Alexis, and the series of substitutions took the momentum out of the game.
Rayo were effectively spent, and Barcelona maintained possession, while occasionally fashioning chances. Villa’s effort in the 69th minute was spectacular, as he elegantly controlled a long pass and then tried a lob that went just over.
2-0 Alexis Sánchez (min 40)
3-0 Villa (min 42)
4-0 Messi (min 49)
Barcelona lost their unbeaten record on Saturday night, slumping to a 1-0 defeat at Getafe. Guardiola’s men were subdued for most of the encounter, and fell to a header from Azulones’ defender Juan Valera.
Guardiola rested Fábregas for this match, opting for a midfield of Thiago, Sergio and Xavi, behind Messi, Alexis and Villa in attack. Getafe are a side with a decent home record, having overcome local rivals Atlético Madrid at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez at the start of the month.
And indeed, it turned out to be a tough night for Barça against a rugged and committed Getafe team. For the first half hour there were few opportunities for either outfit, with Barcelona struggling to get into their stride due to a mix of pressing by Getafe and their own occasional sloppiness.
Still, the away team might have been one-up in the second minute, when Alves slipped Villa free on the right side of the area. Moya tipped the ball wide, and that would be the sum of Barcelona’s chances for much of the first period. There were a couple of efforts from long-range free-kicks, and Getafe also had occasional sightings of goal, but two teams were largely cancelling each other out.
With around ten minutes of the first period to go, Barça started to find their rhythm; Moya had to be quick to snuffle out a one-on-one with Messi, add then a stylish flowing move ended with a Alves cutback and Alexis shot that Moya managed to push wide. Then another fleet attack led to another effort from Alexis, that too a dangerous deflection, carrying it just over the bar.
If Guardiola was hoping from a response from his players he’d have been a little disappointed, as Getafe enjoyed a degree of comfort after the break.
Worse still, after 20 minutes Getafe took the lead with one of their few spells in the Barcelona half. Sarabia curled a corner in, and Valera cropped up behind Busquets to head home.
Barcelona looked tired and were slow to respond, but Guardiola threw on Pedro and Cuenca in a bid to open up the stubborn home side. And it was Pedro who would have the next chance, breaking free on the right side of the area, but only able to shoot straight at Moya.
Barcelona piled on the pressure, but found Getafe increasingly frustrating, and the home side might even have doubled their lead when Miku broke free, only to shoot wide.
Then, as the clock wound down there were three moments of great drama; first Sergio went down in the area after wriggling free, but was issued a yellow card. Barça then had the ball in the net after a move between Messi and Keita, but the Malian midfielder was narrowly offside. With stoppage time all but over, Messi brought the ball into the area, but could only hit the post, bringing at end to what was a night to forget for Barcelona.
1-0 Valera (min 66)
FC Barcelona qualified top of Group H on Wednesday night, beating Milan 3-2 in an entertaining encounter at the San Siro. There was a thrilling mix of skill and controversy; Barça’s goals game through a van Bommel own goal, Messi and Xavi after a fine team move. Milan equalized twice, with Ibrahimovic and Boateng grabbing two well-worked goals.
Although Milan and Barcelona had already achieved qualification for the second round, first place, and with it the prospect of an easier knockout opponent, was still up for grabs. Both clubs fielded competitive teams, with a host of stars lining up at kick-off. Messi, Xavi, Villa, Cesc and Puyol were present for Barça, while Swedish striker Ibrahimovic started for Milan against his former club.
After an even opening few minutes, Barcelona took the lead through an own goal by Dutch veteran Mark van Bommel; Keita got free down the left side of the area and produced a low cross that wrong-footed a number of Milan players, including their midfielder who turned it into his net under pressure from Xavi.
Barcelona were nearly two-up seconds later, when Thiago showed quick feet and quick thinking to flick the ball past the backline for Cesc Fábregas, whose volley was straight at Abbiati.
After this let off Milan started to find their feet. First Robinho somehow contrived to turn a Boateng cross over the bar, and then Seedorf trapped a long pass on the left angle of the area. He then pushed the ball through for Ibrahimovic who scored with a low first-time shot.
But the momentum was soon back with the away team. Messi was denied at close range, and some flowing Barcelona moves were ended only by last-ditch tackles. Then, on the half-hour mark, Alberto Aquilani was adjudged to have hauled down Lionel Messi – much to the home team’s dismay. After lengthy protestations by Milan, the Argentine forward stepped up to take his kick. His first effort was chalked off thanks to its stuttering run-up, but the second was legitimate, and was tucked into the bottom right corner.
In the final minutes of the half Abbiati made important saves from both Messi and Villa to preserve a score-line that perhaps flattered the hosts.
The second period was an altogether more subdued affair, but was lit up by moments of sublime skill. On an individual level, Boateng’s 53rd minute equalizer was something to behold; Mascherano half-cleared a deep cross for Ibra, and the ball fell to AC Milan’s German talent – he trapped the ball first time and flicked the ball past Abidal with his heel before slamming home at Valdes’ near post.
In no mood to be outdone, Barcelona reclaimed the lead on the hour-mark through a fabulous team goal. At the end of it Messi produced a forensic through-pass, evading four Milan defenders, which finished with expert precision by Xavi. Later, Abbiati made two point-blank saves to keep substitiute Alexis at bay, but Barcelona were more than comfortable.
0-1 Van Bommel (min 13)
1-1 Ibrahimovic (min 19)
1-2 Messi (min 30)
2-2 Boateng (min 55)
2-3 Xavi (min 64)
FC Barcelona romped to a 4-0 win at home to Real Zaragoza on Saturday night, with Piqué, Messi, Puyol and David Villa grabbing the goals. The home side was in sparkling form and had complete control of the game – only a fine performance by Los Blanquillos’ ‘keeper Roberto kept the score-line down.
Barcelona lined up for this game with an exciting attacking side; Alexis Sánchez started on the left flank, presented with an opportunity to put his stuttering early career with the club behind him. Young winger Isaac Cuenca took his place on the right, and Messi, Cesc and Xavi took up the central creative roles, switching positions throughout the evening.
As is so often the case, Barça took a little while to get going, but completely dominated possession and territory, with the majority of the football played on the edge of Zaragoza’s area. In fact it took a goal from Barcelona for them to find their attacking rhythm.
Cesc won a free-kick on left angle of the area after 20 minutes – Xavi stepped up and curled a teasing cross, which Piqué headed home unmarked from the six-yard line.
The remainder of the first half was a barrage from Barça, and saw Zaragoza ‘keeper in stunning form. Messi alone had four close-range chances stopped, with Alexis and Cesc providing the ammunition. One of the best opportunities fell to Barça’s Chilean winger – Messi hustled forward, laid the ball to Cesc, whose back-heel was perfectly timed to meet, Alexis’ run, but Roberto was once again equal to the shot.
Then, just as the first half was coming to a close, Cesc found Messi in space in the area with a perceptive pass. The Argentine forward ducked past centre-half Lanzaro and finished right-footed to double Barcelona’s lead.
Barcelona continued to carve Zaragoza open after the break, with Lionel Messi at the heart of the best moves. He released Cesc, who saw his left-footed effort tipped past the post by Roberto. This effort was followed by the away side’s only real attacking spell in the match – the most notable attempt was by Laifto, who ran at Barça’s backline, but smashed a right-footed shot wide of the near post.
Barcelona responded by scoring their third of the night. Puyol took up an advanced position for a free-kick and showed real grit to score at the second attempt after Keita headed Xavi’s back across goal. Sensing that the game was now safe, Guardiola withdrew Cesc, Xavi and Alexis, bring on Thiago, Iniesta and David Villa.
After a sublime run, Messi fed Iniesta, but his clever toe-poke was clawed away by the fingertips of Roberto, who was the man responsible for keeping an air of respectability to the score-line.
In the end it was El Guaje who notched Barcelona’s fourth – Cuenca worked his way to the byline, and, when the youngster’s cross was deflected by Minero, Villa was on hand to complete the rout with a diving header.
1-0 Gerard Pique (min 17)
2-0 Lionel Messi (min 42)
3-0 Carles Puyol (min 53)
4-0 David Villa (min 74)
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)
FC Barcelona snatched a last-minute point amid a torrential downpour away to Athletic Bilbao. Barça twice went behind, to Ander Herrera and a late own goal, but fought back, first with a fantastic Fàbregas header and a piece of last-gasp opportunism from Lionel Messi.
The opening half was gripping entertainment; a clash between two skillful sides combining speed of movement and no shortage of technical quality. The sodden San Mamés pitch, though hardly suited to passing football, made no real negative impact on the spectacle, beyond causing a couple of untimely slips, most notably in the build up to Bilbao’s 20th minute opener.
Barcelona seemed to settle into their game quite quickly here – early on, Javi Martínez had to make a last ditch tackle to foil a 50-yard run by Lionel Messi. But the home team always looked smart on the counter, led by their strapping talismanic striker Fernando Llorente. Moments after a warning shot by De Marcos was saved by Valdes, Munain skipped down the left wing – Dani Alves was covering, but lost his footing – the young winger then cut the ball back for Ander, whose deflected off Pique’s knee, past Barça’s despairing ‘keeper and into the net for 1-0.
Barcelona wasted no time getting back into the match; Messi rolled a smart free-kick into the path of Dani Alves, who shot straight at Gorka. Then, after a scramble on the left side of the area, Abidal found a couple of yards of space by the touchline. The Frenchman curled a wonderful cross that Cesc Fábregas headed into the top-right corner like a seasoned striker.
Although Barcelona were marginally in control, both sides then had chances to take the lead. After a spell of beautiful passing, Messi jinked to the edge of the Bilbao area and clipped a lovely pass through to Iniesta, whose toe-poke was just saved by Gorka. Then Ander slipped Munain behind Barça’s backline, but Valdes got down t make a great reflex stop to his left.
In the second half the appalling conditions finally took their toll on the game, with surface water hampering both teams’ efforts to keep the ball. It was Barcelona who were making a fist of it though. Iniesta had a 30-yard lob saved, and then Cesc played Messi in, but his shot was saved and scrambled away by Bilbao’s ‘keeper.
The home team were subdued, but there was a hint of a threat lurking beneath the surface. Mascherano tried to pass the ball back to Valdés from the halfway line, but the ball skipped off the surface and out for a Bilbao corner. The ball came in, and Abidal’s clearance hit Llorente on the shin – Pique tried to react, but could only diver the ball past Valdes to make it 2-1.
Then, after chances for David Villa and Iniesta, Messi took advantage of a defensive mix-up to equalise with a composed finish in the very last minute of normal time.
1-0 Ander (min 19)
1-1 Fabregas (min 23)
2-1 Fernando Llorente (min 78)
2-2 Messi (min 89)