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Flat Barça bailed out by Neymar and Sánchez

Flat Barça bailed out by Neymar and Sánchez

Flat Barça bailed out by Neymar and Sánchez
Arch Bell 11/01/2013
Solid second half work from Neymar and Alexis Sánchez helped Barcelona overcome a sluggish performance as the reigning league champions downed Espanyol 1-0 Friday night at the Camp Nou.
Overall, it was a frustrating 90 minutes for Barcelona and above all for star Lionel Messi who seemed out-of-sorts against their city rivals. Nevertheless, a seventh league goal from Messi’s Chilean teammate Sánchez was enough to continue Barcelona’s unbeaten start to the season.
Another match, another lineup for head coach Gerardo Martino who slotted in a back four of Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Piqué and Martin Montoya to protect goalkeeper Victor Valdés. In the middle, Andres Iniesta was back in the fold replacing Cesc Fabregas and the La Mancha midfielder was joined by stalwarts Xavi and Sergio Busquets. Up front, Martino opted for his South American trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and the red-hot Alexis Sánchez.
Despite having the grand majority of the possession in the first half, it was actually Espanyol who enjoyed one of the best goal-scoring chances of the first 45 minutes when some miscommunication between Alves and Valdés almost allowed Víctor Sánchez to swoop in and score on a pass from Thievy. If not for the left foot of Valdés kicking the ball away, the Pericos would have taken a shock lead.
The hosts nearly snuck in a goal before the break when Alves used some fancy footwork to set up a shot that rifled off the post before getting cleared by the Espanyol defense.
Barcelona continued to be frustrated in attack well into the second half but Neymar nearly shook them from the doldrums with a brilliant individual effort in the 62nd minute. The Brazilian lulled two defenders to sleep before unleashing a curling right-footed that barely sailed wide of the post.
However, six minutes later, there was more stellar play from Neymar and this time it resulted in a 1-0 lead for the home side. Busquets sliced in a ball to Neymar on the left and the former Santos man then skipped a ball through the legs of two Espanyol players that also barely deflected off the fingertips of Espanyol goalkeeper Francsico Casilla only to see Alexis Sánchez push the ball into the net at the back post. It was the seventh goal of the season for the in-form Chilean striker who is, without question, enjoying his finest season in a Barcelona uniform.
The Azulgrana were able to shake off some nervy moments in the final 10 minutes to sew up the win and now will turn their attention to a midweek Champions League clash versus Milan.
Flat Barça bailed out by Neymar and Sánchez Reviewed by Wor Media on 2:27 AM Rating: 5
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