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October 23, 2010
• Estadio de la Romareda, Zaragoza
Referee: Miguel Pérez Lasa
• Attendance: 26000
L. Messi 42', 66'
That's full time in Zaragoza. The home side remain rooted to the bottom of the table but more significantly, Barcelona move top thanks to two brilliant goals from Leo Messi. Thanks for joining me this evening, it's been a pleasure. Until next time, adios.
Yellow Card Piqué
Valdes comes for the free-kick and does not get there but Puyol helps him out by heading the ball behind for a corner.
Mascherano is now able to come on and he unsurprisingly swaps places with Sergio Busquets. Pique is booked for handball despite his protestations that he was protecting his face.
Villa breaks into the box and gets a thunderous shot away from a tightish angle, which cannons against the outside of the near post.
Braulio is booked for a trip on Busquets, which is an unpopular decision among the home fans and the coach as it was a rather soft caution when one looks at what some Barca players escaped with. Mascherano is ready to come on.
Yellow Card Braulio
Barcelona have three men closing in on Doblas but Villa is offside as he receives Messi's ball.
Again, it is Obradovic who tries to spark another attack but his attempted ball over the top is too strong and skips through to Valdes.
At the same time as the first team are heading to the top of La Liga, Barcelona B are currently 1-0 down at home to Huesca, also with around ten minutes to play in that game.
An enterprising run forward from Obradovic is stopped in its tracks by an excellent challenge from Pique who read the danger superbly.
Zaragoza win their first free-kick of the second half as Gabi is fouled by Thiago, which brings ironic cheers from the supporters.
Busquets finds Bojan who comes inside off the left and unleashes a fiercely struck shot, which goes narrowly over the crossbar.
Bojan is another of Barcelona's youth with a famous footballing father - his dad Bojan Krkic played for both Red Star (Crvena Zvezda) and the then Yugoslav national team. Zaragoza make their last change with the former Willem II playmaker Said Boutahar replacing Lafita.
A second change by Pep Guardiola as Bojan comes on for Pedro.
It's only the sixth La Liga appearance for Thiago, whose father Manzinho was a World Cup winner in 1994. Indeed, he took part in the famous baby celebration with Bebeto and Romario in the quarter-final win against the Dutch.
Barcelona use the stoppage to effect the substitution with El Don Andres Iniesta receives a well-earned rest and is replaced by Thiago.
Yellow Card Lafita
Lafita is booked, as much for persistent fouling as anything else after a foul on Dani Alves.
Thiago Alcantara, one of the stars of Spain's under-19 European Championship winning side, is about to come on for the last 20 or so minutes.
Moments before the goal, Doblas had beaten away Villa's shot from point blank range after excellent work from Pedro on the left wing. There was undoubtedly a good deal of fortune about the goal, with Iniesta's shot breaking to Messi but take nothing away from the Argentine whose finish was befitting of the world's finest footballer.
GOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL MESSI!!!!!! All over now for Zaragoza! Messi gets his second of the evening. Iniesta's shot bounced off Jarosik and into the path of Messi who blasts the ball home into the bottom corner past a helpless Doblas.
Gabi, who is already on a yellow, walks the tightrope by tripping Busquets but he escapes a second booking.
Marco Perez and Jorge Lopez come on for Zaragoza in a double change for Ander and Contini.
Almost the second goal for Barcelona! Villa finds Messi with a gorgeous through ball but Doblas beats a rather average shot away. Messi then reacts to the rebound and tries to divert the ball home but it goes wide.
Villa looks to work a chance down the right-hand side of the box against Obradovic but he overruns the ball and delays too long and it goes behind for a goal-kick.
Hercules showed how to play with ten men against Villarreal but Zaragoza have no-one with either the trickery of Tiago Gomez or the pace and work-rate of Nelson Valdez.
Barcelona have everyone forward, keeping just three men back with Alves only nominally a right-back. He has operated essentially as a right winger tonight as Guardiola alters the shape to suit the very cautious opposition.
After an endless spell of knocking the ball around inconsequently, Iniesta tries to fashion a chance with Villa lurking in the centre but Doblas takes the attempted cross.
Alves receives the customary round of boos from the home supporters upon his first touch after re-entering the fray.
Alves is perfectly fine of course though that is not to even attempt to justify the actions of Ponzio, the former River Plate midfielder. Meanwhile, Barca have a free-kick centrally 30 yards from goal. Villa steps up on his old ground and strikes the wall.
Red Card Leonardo Ponzio
RED CARD! PONZIO SENT OFF! Ponzio is given his marching orders for a clip around the ear of Dani Alves. He races over to the linesman to argue his cause but to no avail and he is forced to make the lonely walk down the tunnel. The last thing his side needed!
Welcome back for the second half as Zaragoza look to somehow try to get into the game. There is some hope as Barcelona have not been at their best without Xavi. The champions kick us off in the second period and both sides are unchanged.
Half-time in Zaragoza and Barcelona, who have been dominant in possession, lead 1-0 thanks to a wonderfully worked goal from Messi who scored after racing onto Villa's superb reverse ball. Join me in fifteen minutes for the second half.
There is just the single minute of injury time at the end of this first half.
Again, a free-header for a Zaragoza player from a set-piece but Lanzaro's effort is far too weak to ever worry Valdes.
Assist David Villa
GOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL MESSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII The best player in the world does it again!!!!! Zaragoza carelessly lose the ball in midfield and Villa plays a superb reverse ball to Messi who races through the centre and 1 v 1 with Doblas, well there's only one winner! Messi keeps his head and slots the ball home after he waits for Doblas to commit to the dive.
Messi puts a cross in from the right, which entices Doblas out of his goal and he is poleaxed by an uncompromising challenge from Keita. Free-kick Zaragoza.
Zaragoza are doing rather well by their standards so far this season. 9 of the 12 goals they have conceded have come in the opening half-hour.
Simply glorious from Messi! An incisive chipped ball from Messi finds Alves in space. The full-back tries to be too clever by scooping the ball over Doblas and he overhits the shot, which lands just behind the goal.
From the corner, Busquets tries to cut the ball back from the right but the dogged Diogo persists with the challenge and the danger is averted.
A fantastic Barcelona counter almost results and indeed should have resulted in a goal. Iniesta showed superb vision to find Villa on space over on the left after slaloming his way out of his own penalty box. Villa then comes forward and finds Pedro in the centre but his shot goes wide. Amazingly, the referee awards a corner despite Pedro's rather honest admission that he got the last touch of the ball.
Villa is forced into a brief emergency shift at left-back. He does well to recover after being initially beaten by Lafita's sidestep to make a block and limit the damage to a corner.
Yellow Card Gabi
This time, Villa takes the free-kick and it's an inswinger from the left but despite looking to find the head of a team-mate, the ball innocently passes through to Doblas.
Pique has dusted himself down and is fine to continue. He is of course back at the club where he spent a year on loan from Manchester United. Zaragoza's captain Gabi is booked for a crunching sliding challenge, which sends Iniesta flying.
Carlos Diogo wins a corner for Zaragoza off Iniesta, their first of the game. Lafita takes and it's met by a fantastic leap from Jiri Jarosik who powerfully heads towards goal. Valdes makes a comfortable save diving low to his right. Pique is down clutching his shoulder.
El Guaje! David Villa ghosts into the inside right channel from Pedro's through ball and Doblas produces a good stop to beat away the shot.
Lafita is a good actor as the linesman had done well to spot a deliberate handball as he recovered himself from Busquets' initial challenge.
Lafite looks at the linesman in amazement as he is called up for a supposed foul on Busquets when it really did look a case of the Barcelona man being at fault.
From a dangerous position on the left-hand side, Messi decides to curl the ball into the box but it's a poor free-kick and Lanzaro stoops to head clear.
Yellow Card Leonardo Ponzio
Yellow Card Maurizio Lanzaro
The possession stats for the opening 25 minutes show an incredible 81% of the ball for Barcelona, as opposed to 19 for the struggling Zaragoza. Lanzaro could not help himself as he clumsily lunges in on Keita from behind and is booked for his efforts.
Messi, operating centally, tries to find Villa but Jarosik cuts the ball out. Braulio is sent clear on the counter but Abidal uses his pace and averts the danger without taking any undue risks.
Dani Alves is behind the free-kick but as so often, he flatters to deceive and blasts the ball high over the goal. A nondescript look is etched across Guardiola's face, as he wanted the ball to be played out wide. Maybe Alves will listen next time...
Ouch! Ander catches Messi and sends him flying. He escapes a booking, perhaps due to the sheer difficulty of stopping the Argentine genius.
Messi worms his way through an impossible gap before spreading the play to Pedro but he strays a yard offside down the right flank.
Braulio did well to time his run and stay onside as he got away from Puyol but sadly his excellent first-touch was not matched by the finish, which was of a man who has just one goal in the last three seasons. Seconds later, Barcelona put another ball into the box from that left-hand side via Iniesta but it's too high for the diminuitive Messi.
Zaragoza are putting in a real shift so far and as such Barcelona have not had it all their own way. As I say that, Dani Alves wins the ball back and Barcelona come again but Iniesta tries to be too cute and the move breaks down. Zaragoza counter and Lafita finds Braulio who has a decent chance on the left-hand side of the box but his tame shot is easily saved by Valdes.
Obradovic's header from Messi's dinked pass right finds Pedro but with a plethora of bodies in front of him, the winger can only resort to a daisycutter, which Doblas collects comfortably.
Big chance for Barcelona! Messi with a defence splitting ball out to Iniesta on the left. The Don returns it to the centre, where Villa looks to end the move with a goal but he is denied by an excellent sliding challenge from Lanzaro.
Carlos Diogo has a cheeky tug on the shorts of Iniesta and is called up for the foul. And the first flicker of genius from Messi as he unleashes a left-foot shot from distance but it's straight above Doblas who can tip the ball over the bar without too much discomfort.
Iniesta loses out in the challenge and trips Ander conceding the free-kick.
Iniesta jinks inside off the left and puts a gorgeous ball to Pedro at the back post but Obradovic gets there first and heads behind for a corner. Mind you, the header was not that far away from Doblas in the Zaragoza goal! The resulting set-piece comes to nothing.
Gabi tries to play a through ball for Braulio but it's too strong and Valdes hurries out of his goal to smother the danger.
Lafita does superbly on the right flank to escape the attention of Keita and Abidal but as he threatens to burst into the box, Keita ensures the former Depor man makes no further progress with a cynical trip.
As expected, Barcelona are in possession with Zaragoza content to put everyone behind the ball and hope to frustrate the champions.
We're underway here in Zaragoza. The home side have lined-up in an incredibly defensive 5-4-1 system with Barcelona in their usual 4-3-3 formation. Xavi will be a big miss in the visitors' midfield but they do possess a formidable attacking line of Pedro, Messi and David Villa. What price on El Guaje ending his goalscoring drought this evening?
Hola and welcome to Goal.com's live text commentary of the early La Liga game between Zaragoza and Barcelona. Zaragoza have endured a miserable start to the season and are bottom of the table with just three points from seven games. The champions meanwhile have not yet hit the heights of last term but produced a scintillating second-half performance last week to come from behind and defeat Valencia 2-1 at the Camp Nou.
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