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Played
August 6, 2011 9:00 PM BST
 
24′ David Villa
 
90′ Seydou Keita
 

Barcelona 2-0 Club America: David Villa & Seydou Keita do the needful in sedate encounter

A fine header from the forward and a late tap-in from the Malian was sufficient for the Catalan side to close off their visit to Texas with a win over the Mexican giants

By Ewan Macdonald

David Villa y Jorge Reyes - Barcelona vs America (Getty Images)
Getty Images
Club America were second-best against a Barcelona side inspired by David Villa and Thiago in an occasionally ponderous but overall interesting match at the Cowboys Stadium, losing 2-0.

Villa opened the scoring for the Spanish giants on 24 minutes and Seydou Keita wrapped up the victory with the second goal of the match in the dying moments.

For all the household names on the pitch it was an unfamiliar-looking Barca side that started the game in what first appeared to be a 4-4-2 system. However, as Andres Iniesta and Xavi played a narrow game, Thiago often moved between them to support wide forward Pedro Rodriguez and Villa in what was an attacking and dynamic formation.

The Mexican outfit, meanwhile, emphasised solidity with their powerful XI. A three-pronged attack led by Cristian Benitez and a defence led by ex-Sevilla man Aquivaldo Mosquera sought to capitalise on Barcelona's high line and defend with strength.

Eight minutes in Vicente Sanchez was gifted a glorious chance as he was played onside by Gerard Pique: getting on the end of a long ball over the top, he hesitated too long and was robbed by Eric Abidal when faced with goal.

Xavi had Barcelona's first taste of goal as he fizzed a low shot wide four minutes later, but overall it was a slow start for both sides on the dry Cowboys Stadium pitch.

Barca began to press more on the quarter-hour mark, Thiago's appeals for a penalty against Jorge Reyes going unheeded as he finished and ended a slick move on the edge of the box with Andres Iniesta.

Indeed, the story of the first-half was largely one of the young midfielder, who was seemingly everywhere at once.

But Xavi was the first to make the difference, conducting a brilliant run down the right flank before crossing to the unmarked Villa at the near post. The ex-Valencia man nodded the ball goalwards against Armando Navarette's momentum and the European champions had the lead.

This goal saw Barcelona's confidence increase, with no shortage of tricks on the ball in and around the Club America area delighting the crowd.

The Eagles proved that they were still in the contest in the 30th minute with some neat interplay of their own, culminating in a drive from Carlos Medina that was well-held by Victor Valdes.

Pedro attempted a solo run and shot of his own 10 minutes before the break, but although he did well to steer the ball on target his shot was easy prey for Navarrete. Five minutes later the youngster was on the prowl again, this time being played through by Iniesta and Thiago, but Navarette was again the equal to the effort.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola suffered a nervous moment just before the half as Villa went down under a crunching challenge from Oscar Rojas, but the forward was back on his feet soon enough to steer a one-on-one shot ever so slightly past Navarette's far post from a narrow angle.

Juan Carlos Medina became the first player booked, picking up a yellow card for a cheeky trip on Thiago, on the stroke of half-time. Once again the commanding Navarette was quick off his line to prevent danger as the half ended.

Some sloppiness crept into Barcelona's play after the restart, Sanchez yet again passing up a one-on-one after a dreadful backpass from Adriano. But their strength soon showed, Thiago blazing over ten minutes later after yet more sublime interplay on the very edge of the Club America box.

Sanchez very nearly redeemed his earlier wastefulness with a superb effort: Abidal was easily muscled aside as the forward shot low and true, but Valdes was able to tip it wide with an outstretched arm.

Some excitement appeared just as the game threatened to be slowing down: Valdes had to sprint 40 yards off his line to beat Christian Benitez to a speculative ball forward, and a Barcelona crisis was thus averted in acrobatic fashion.

Meanwhile when the mood took them the Catalan giants continued to run the midfield show, despite their substitutions, and as such America's frequency of long balls continued.

Navarette was not spared his own task, either, as Villa forced a high save in the 67th minute, but yet again the Spanish champions were to take no joy from the resulting corner.

As with all friendlies substitutions were not exactly thin on the ground, and as Barcelona's stars filtered off the pitch America sought to reinforce theirs, Joaquin Martinez being one such arrival twenty minutes from the end.

The game's already-modest pace slowed considerably heading into the final ten minutes, with only a free-kick from  either end seeing either substitute goalkeeper pressed into something resembling action.

Still, young Isaac Cuenca did his best to set the pulse racing with a surge down the right, winning a corner off Mosquera seven minutes from time. Like most others, though, it was cleared at the near post.

And just when Barcelona thought it was safe, Benitez showed his strength, nodding down a goal kick and playing a one-two with  Acuna before shooting just wide.

Benitez was left kicking himself yet again just a minute later, America's unusually precise passing moves giving him time and space in the box to compose a shot, but a poor first touch saw the chance disappear.

In fact, America really came alive in the closing stages, yet another fine run down the right from Acuna ending in a near-miss and a corner.

Their profligacy, though, was to cost them as Barcelona put the result beyond question with a scrappy but effective goal in the final minute. Carlos Carmona played an accurate cross-field ball for Gerard, who brilliantly muscled past Paul Aguilar before playing a ball across goal for Keita to poke home.

That was sufficient for a Barcelona victory in a sedate pre-season game that offered decent entertainment value and a glimpse of young talents for both sides.


FC Barcelona

1
Víctor Valdés
Goalkeeper
71′
0.00
22
Éric Abidal
Defender
0.00
16
Busquets
Defender
0.00
3
Piqué
Defender
52′
0.00
21
Adriano
Midfielder
46′
0.00
8
0.00
6
Xavi
Midfielder
46′
0.00
-
Seydou Keita
Midfielder
62′ 90′
0.00
7
Pedro
Striker
76′
0.00
6
0.00
9
David Villa
Striker
24′ 76′
0.00

America

0.00
-
A. Navarrete
Goalkeeper
74′
0.00
4
D. Reyes
Defender
0.00
-
Ó. Rojas
Defender
0.00
3
0.00
22
0.00
2
E. Castillo
Defender
0.00
26
J. Medina
Midfielder
45′ 61′
0.00
10
0.00
7
0.00
11
0.00
5
J. Molina
Striker

Substitutes

-
Jordi Masip
Goalkeeper
71′
0.00
3
0.00
-
0.00
-
Cuenca
Defender
46′
0.00
12
0.00
-
Carmona
Midfielder
76′
0.00
10
0.00

Substitutes

0.00
-
J. Martínez
Midfielder
70′
0.00
-
R. González
Midfielder
61′
0.00
-
I. Acuña
Midfielder
57′
0.00
-
L. Pineda
Goalkeeper
74′

Coach/Manager

-
0.00

Coach/Manager

0.00
-
 
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