European delicatessen. Barça win Shakhtar (5-1)
FC Barcelona have a foot and a half in the semi finals of the Champions League thanks to a 5-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk at the Camp Nou. In a gripping game, all of Iniesta, Alves, Piqué, Keita and Xavi found the target.
Barcelona (FCB).- Guardiola meant it when he said he feared what Shakhtar Donetsk are capable of doing. Barça and the Ukrainians produced an electric game with chances falling to both sides and plenty of intensity, which brought to mind that epic game between Barça and Dynamo Kiev nearly two decades ago. But this time it was Guardiola who came out on top, for his side were far more effective in front of goal. Iniesta, Alves, Piqué, Keita and Xavi all scored, while plenty of Shakhtar chances went begging. FC Barcelona is very close to reach the semi finals and very like it will play agains Real Madrid, which won the Tottenham by 4-0.
Shakhtar\u2019s goal, scored by Rakitskiy, one of the better visitors at the Camp Nou today, gave his side some momentary hope for next Tuesday\u2019s return leg in the Ukraine, but at 3-1, FCB still found time for two more, and Lucescu\u2019s side now need to win by at least 4-0 in the second game. Barcelona look safely qualified, but no doubt Guardiola will rightfully argue that the job Is still only half done.
Goal in first attack
Things couldn\u2019t have got off to a brighter start. Iniesta pounced on a poor clearance to break free against Pyatov and slot the ball home confidently. There were only 90 seconds on the clock. But it didn\u2019t knock any wind out of Shakhtar Donetsk, who spent the first quarter of an hour on the attack and if Luiz Adriano and Willian had been a bit more decisive in front of goal, things would have been back level.
The Ukrainians were taking all kinds of risks, and looked imaginative in attack but less solid at the back, with Chygrynskiy\u2019s replacement at centre back, Ischchenko, looking somewhat unsettled. That led to Shakhtar surrendering the lion\u2019s share of the midfield play to Barça, led by yet another impeccable performance from Iniesta, who laid on for the assist for Alves to cleverly beat the offside trap and score a cheeky goal to make it 2-0. Messi and Alves in particular were making the evening a nightmare for Shakhtar, and at half time, Guardiola must have been more than happy with what he\u2019d seen.
Far from the game being over, the second half produced yet more exquisite football. Barça wanted more and more and the third goal came from a corner. A set play came off to perfection, with Piqué finding himself alone in the middle of the area. Rakitskiy, off whom Piqué\u2019s shot deflected into the net, was also the author of his side\u2019s only goal. That too came from a dead ball situation, and looked to have changed the dynamic somewhat. The last thing FCB needed was to start leaking sloppy away goals.
But it only took FC Barcelona a minute to set things straight. Before Shakhtar had had time to savour their goal, Messi produced a trademark play on the edge of the area and threaded the ball on to Keita, who produced an absolute scorcher of a goal. That made it 4-1.
Xavi joins the fiesta
The game suddenly lost all of its shape. The visitors were all over the place as they desperately tried to break down Barcelona\u2019s combination plays, and the result was a flurry of chances at both ends. Luiz Adriano hit the post from a narrow angle that would have made it 4-2 and moments later Messi had a goal disallowed for offside. But there was still time for more, and Xavi made it five by finishing off a move initiated by Alves. What a night for attacking football!
1-0, Iniesta (min 2)
2-0, Alves (min 33)
3-0, Piqué (min 53)
3-1, Rakitskiy (min 59)
4-1, Keita (min 60)
5-1, Xavi (min 86)