Barcelona 1-0 Almeria: Blaugrana Edge Hugo Sanchez’s Men In Scrappy Encounter

Pedro An uninspired Barca side did enough to secure all three points against a stubborn Almeria.

Barcelona were expected to make light work of Almeria at the Camp Nou and eventhough they pocketed all three points to maintain their 100 per cent record in La Liga thanks to Pedro’s stunning strike, it was the only goal ‘El Tricampeon’ could find.

The Catalans wasted little time asserting their dominance, barely allowing their humble visitors to even touch the ball as their coach, Hugo Sanchez showed no attempts to disguise his ultra-defensive approach.

The first crack at goal only arrived after ten minute when Andres Iniesta fed in Lionel Messi down the right channel inside the box. The Argentine checked past his man but curled his shot wide.

Almeria had a rare attacking surge in the 15th minute when Crusat pounced on a woeful pass from Maxwell and squared the ball to the middle. Victor Valdes could only flap it away but fortunately for the Catalans, no one was there to pummel in the loose ball.

Luck, however, wasn’t on Barca’s side on 17 minutes when they hit the woodwork twice. First, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s cross found Xavi, whose gorgeous volley cannoned off the post, before Pedro’s headed rebound was also denied by the upright.

But the deadlock was finally broken in the 30th minute by Pedro. The youngster picked up a pass from Maxwell, spun past his marker and instantly arrowed in a sumptuous shot on the edge of the box into the top right corner.

The Blaugrana saw out the half well in control of proceedings, but they failed to build on their lead as they barely threatened again and Hugo Sanchez looked the happier of the two coaches heading back into the tunnel.

Almeria came out firing in the second period as they tried to catch Barca off-guard with an early equaliser. Just four minutes after the restart, Guilherme whipped in a cross from the left for Crusat, but before he could pull the trigger, Maxwell lunged in with a critical interception.

Iniesta then tried his luck with an effort outside the box, but he could quite guide it on target as he aimed for Diego Alves’ far corner. Right on the hour mark, Messi had a shot at goal which took a wicked deflection off a defender and completely wrong-footed the visiting goalkeeper, but the ball trickled harmlessly wide.

Barca were starting to look jaded and out of ideas. But on 76 minutes, Ibrahimovic, chasing a record of scoring in the club’s first six league games in succession, saw his low shot from outside the box slapped away brilliantly by Diego Alves.

The Andalucians continued to defend diligently, restricting Pep Guardiola’s men of any real clear cut chances while looking threatening when they bombed forward on the counter.

Victor Valdes had to look sharp in the air to deal with the long balls and crosses as well as on the ground to smother any piercing through passes as his attacking team-mates kept on pushing forward but never really looked like scoring another goal, and they could have paid dearly for it.

In the final minutes of the game, Guilherme broke free down the right flank and galloped into the box but instead of taking a shot, he toe-poked a cross to the back post where no one in Almeria’s sky-blue shirt was even close to making a connection.

The solitary goal was sufficient for the Blaugrana to pick up all three points and extend their perfect start to the league campaign as they returned to the summit for at least 24 hours.

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on October 3, 2009.

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