With Barcelona closing the gap between themselves and the Madrid teams, it was important that they didn't slip up tonight and made sure they were still within one point of the summit of La Liga. They started brightly too, with Iniesta sliding a ball through to Lionel Messi in the fourth minute. The Argentine shaped to score but the linesman's flag was already up, a recurrent theme of the night.
Shots on Target
But two minutes later, the ball was in and the flag was down. Iniesta, again in the thick of it, found Messi who dribbled his way past a static Celta Vigo defence. Sunday's hat-trick hero then slid the ball to the feet of Alexis Sánchez who then did the same for Neymar, leaving the Brazilian with an open goal to score the first goal of the game.
The game then followed a family pattern. Barça have possession, Barça attack goal, player goes one-on-one, misses chance by a whisker, Celta clear, Barça regain possession. Both Messi and Neymar saw a shot met with a Yoel save as Barcelona attempted to build on their one goal advantage. Neymar was also often thwarted by the offside trap, starting his run a second too soon.
This happened time and time again before Celta eventually broke up field and a shot ricocheted off Adriano's arm. What looked almost two feet out of the penalty area was deemed to be in the area by referee Ayza Gámez and he immediately pointed to the spot. After a booking for Adriano and a chat with his linesmen, Gámez realised his mistake and awarded the free kick to Celta. A routine save for Victor Valdés tuned into a nightmare for the Barcelona bench as the goalkeeper fell to the floor in pain. Replays showed as Valdés reached for the ball, he landed in a way that twisted his knee. Several minutes later, Valdés was hauled off on a stretcher, hands over his face. A terrible sight for all Barça fans as they realised Valdés may never play for the club again.
Pinto replaced the injuries Valdés and soon after Leo Messi doubled Barça's goal tally. A wonderful ball from Iniesta that split Celta's defence in two made it's way into the path of Messi. The Barça number ten worked the ball around a sliding Yoel and then tapped the ball home for Barça. 2-0 and the Catalans were in control.
The team looked to gain a further advantage but was again stopped by the linesman's flag as Neymar scored his second offside goal of the evening.
The teams went in at half time with the score 2-0 and Martino looked towards the weekend. Bringing off Iniesta who was experiencing thigh discomfort for Sergi Roberto. The second half started much in the same vain as the first. Barcelona strolling towards the win without ever getting into top gear.
Seven minutes after the restart, substitute goalie Pinto was called into action. Fernández rifled in a shot which was well parried by Pinto before Santi Mina blasted the follow-up. The ball looked goal bound but Pinto sprang towards in, making you doubt if he really is a 38 year old.
Barcelona looked comfortable to retain the ball without working too hard for it. Knocking it around between the defence, midfield and attack. Celta too looked without the energy to start a real comeback and when Celta did push forward they were punished. Barça sprang away from their own area and Alexis Sánchez pinged a ball across the field for a charging Neymar. The Barça number eleven chested it before heading it into his path. One trick, two tricks then a ball hit hard and low into the Celta goal. Game over for Celta.
Comfortable Barcelona fans were later looking slightly worried as it was now Pinto who was on the ground hurt. A weak back pass from Sergi Roberto led Pinto to rush out and clear the ball. Looking to close the gap for the Cetla striker, Pinto caught his knee on the post. Pinto soldiered on but the thought of which outfield player would be the best in goal may have crossed Martino's mind.
Neymar was later substituted for Pedro as Barcelona saw out the game at 3-0. A 50-50 game for Tata Martino. A good result that keeps them in the title race without using too much energy but a serious injury to Victor Valdés left a real sour taste in the Barça fans' mouthes.
|Roll Call Info|
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