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BATE Borisov

Barcelona’s Young Stars Breeze Past BATE

December 7th, 2011

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Rafinha was operating in Messi’s withdrawn forward position and looked very lively in the opening stages, also heading a Maxwell cross just over.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)

BATE battered in Minsk

September 29th, 2011

FC Barcelona cruised to a 5–0 victory against Belarusian side BATE Borisov in Minsk on Wednesday night. Guardiola’s men were never less than comfortable throughout, creating numerous chances on the way to a relatively rare away victory in Europe.

Sporting their black away colours, Barça took the lead through an own goal, before Pedro scored a header and Messi added two more goals to his already impressive tally this season.

As soon as the match settled, Barcelona were confronted by a wall of yellow shirts, with BATE setting up very deep in the hope of stifling Pep Guardiola’s side. Sole striker Mateja Kezman cut a very isolated figure on the halfway line, with his teammates withdrawing to the edge of the area in two tight banks. The first opportunity fell to BATE, as defender Marko Simic headed a corner over.

Barça stuck to their task and slowly the chances began to flow. Thiago’s shot was saved, and a Messi free-kick flashed past the left corner. With BATE unable to build anything resembling an attack, the strain was beginning to tell. And when Alves delivered a teasing cross from the right flank, midfielder Volodko turned the ball into his own goal under pressure from Messi at the back post.

Just three minutes later Barcelona were two goals ahead, when David Villa swung a pinpoint cross for Pedro to rise and nod home from the penalty spot. After this fine effort the home defence was in disarray, and a host of chances followed for the away side.

Still, the home team did muster one chance – Volodko nearly made up for his earlier error when he found some space in the Barça area, but the Belarusian poked the ball wide under pressure from Valdés.

David Villa was looking particularly lively and had two shots well saved after working some space on the left side of the area. The third goal for Barcelona was an absolute gift. This time Pedro broke free down the right, and when his rather tame cross was inexplicably fumbled by Gutor in the BATE goal, Messi was on hand to stab the ball home from five yards.

Early in the second half Lionel Messi looked hungry for more goals; just after the break he set off on a bustling run from the right flank, but skewed the ball wide at the near post with the outside of his left boot. The Argentine forward was not to be denied though; soon after, he set Alves galloping down the right flank and the Brazilian aimed a forensic square pass through the BATE ranks, which Messi controlled and fired into the top right corner to complete a fantastic move.

Messi nearly turned provider moments later when he found Abidal clear in the area with a breathtaking angled pass, but the French defender’s effort was saved. The night was topped off at the death by David Villa, who tucked a Thiago through pass into the bottom right corner.

0-1 Volodko (own goal) (min 18)
0-2 Pedro (min 22)
0-3 Messi (min 38)
0-4 Messi (min 56)
0-5 Villa (min 89)

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