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Primera División

  • 5 March 2011
  • • 19:00
  • • Camp Nou, Barcelona
  • Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes
  • • Attendance: 85000
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Barcelona 1-0 Zaragoza: First-half Keita strike means Guardiola's side warm-up for Arsenal clash with narrow victory

Barcelona 1-0 Zaragoza: First-half Keita strike means Guardiola's side warm-up for Arsenal clash with narrow victory

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A first-half effort from Seydou Keita was enough to secure three points for Barcelona against a resolute Real Zaragoza, sending Pep Guardiola's side 10 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid.

Eric Abidal, Andres Iniesta and David Villa all started on the bench as Guardiola rested one key man from each department ahead of Barcelona's Champions League second-leg tie with Arsenal next week.

An out-of-favour Gabriel Milito partnered Gerard Pique at centre-back. Argentine Javier Mascherano was handed a rare start in the centre of midfield, while Bojan was given 65 minutes to argue his case for a first-team place before being hauled off for Villa.

Barcelona looked smooth and confident in the opening exchanges but the high line of the hosts' defence was caught out by a lung-bursting run by Nicolas Bertolo. The midfielder took a pass first time with his head and had the speed to beat Milito but Pique was round to cover well.

With almost twenty minutes played, a corner created Barcelona's first effort which called Toni Doblas into action. The Zaragoza goalkeeper moved quickly down to his right to deny a volley from Pedro. Seconds later, Doblas had to make a more routine stop from Xavi, as the midfielder was allowed far too much space 25-yards from goal but couldn't get enough angle on his drive.


Mercurial | Messi shurgs off Obradovic in one of Barcelona's numerous attacks

Barcelona eventually found the net only for the referee's assistant to rule the attempt offside. Dani Alves' cross picking out Keita who headed into the ground and over Doblas into the corner.

Doblas was then forced into his best save of the evening, ashe rushed off his line to close the angle on Lionel Messi and the Argentine couldn't lift the ball over the former Real Betis stopper.

Zaragoza's guard finally fell three minutes before half-time and it was Messi who ripped through the visitors' to create the chance. The Argentine eased his way past three defenders before slipping a low ball into the box from the goal-line. Maurizio Lanzaro missed his kick, but Keita didn't, and the midfielder swept home.

Barcelona were given an early warning after the interval after Bertolo shrugged off Pique far too easily in the box, but the striker bent his shot just wide of Victor Valdes' left post.

Zaragoza continued to press and former Barcelona player Edmilson created a golden opportunity after his raking pass found Florent Sinama Pongolle, but after a fine touch the former Liverpool forward failed to poke past Valdes.

Barcelona introduced Villa just after the hour mark for Pedro, who had failed to make any substantial impact on the game. The former Valencia man looked lively in his attacking efforts but he too was denied by Doblas in the Zaragoza goal.

The visitors continued to threaten on the counter but Barcelona nullified any threat and despite looking disjointed duo to a host of first-team changes, Guardiola's men looked good value for their lead as they head into their Champions League second-leg tie against Arsene Wenger's side.

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