Stylish Barcelona Overcome Osasuna

January 5, 2012

Cesc Fàbregas and Lionel Messi helped bring FC Barcelona within touching distance of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, each scoring two goals in a comfortable 4-0 first leg victory over Osasuna at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

Barcelona settled quickly in this game, showing no signs of rust after their two-week break. A couple of early forays aside, Osasuna were soon pinned back in their own half by the home team’s intelligent passing and movement. Alves dragged a left-footed shot just wide – the livewire Brazilian would be a constant threat down the right wing, given even more freedom playing in front of a three-man defence.

It didn’t take long for Barcelona to make the breakthrough. Alves carried the ball inside from the right, feeding Xavi, whose close control helped him evade three defenders before laying a pass on for Cesc to score an easy tap in.

Cuenca was also impressive down the left flank – he worked some space before finding Alves on the opposite flank, who once again worked the ball to Xavi, but the captain could only shoot just wide.

By now the attacks were relentless and it was no surprise when Barcelona doubled their lead. With 20 minutes gone Xavi fed Cesc on the edge of the area, who controlled the ball on the turn with an immaculate first touch, before clipping a perfectly weighted chip over the head of Riesgo in the Osasuna goal.

Barcelona were looking reinvigorated after their winter break, and continued to carve out chances. Riesgo needed to react quickly to close range shots from Puyol and Thiago, as Osasuna somehow managed to maintain a two-goal deficit. At the end of the half he was called upon once more, tipping a chip by Dani Alves over the bar after a jinking run by the Brazilian.

There were a few contentious moments early on in the second half. Cuenca was clearly fouled on the edge of the penalty are as he skipped past Damià, but referee Borbalán wasn’t interested. Then Messi, on for Pedro, was held back as he bustled into the Osasuna area, but also saw his appeals waved away.

Within minutes of Messi’s entry though, Barcelona once again looked formidable in attack. The Argentine missed the goal by a matter of centimetres after wriggling past two defenders, swapping passes with Alves and neatly chipping the stranded Riesgo.

It mattered little though as Messi would be on the scoresheet minutes later. After Osasuna failed to clear a goalmouth scramble, Cesc aimed a cross to the far post and Messi produced his now customary leap to nod the ball home. He nearly got another shortly after, when Alexis teed him up in the six-yard box, but Riesgo made yet another reaction stop.

There was still time for one more goal. Xavi looked up and saw Messi open on the left-side of the box. The diminutive Argentine turned, looked up and curled a shot past Riesgo to complete an assured performance.

1-0 Cesc (min 13)
2-0 Cesc (min 18)
3-0 Messi (min 74)
4-0 Messi (min 94)

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