Saturday, August 10, 2013

Malaysia 1-3 Barcelona: Fabregas inspires Spanish champion to Asia Tour victory

The Barca midfielder turned in a brilliant performance, playing a part in all three goals as coach Gerardo Martino gained his third consecutive victory

Barcelona made it two wins out of two on its Asia Tour as it overcame a spirited Malaysia XI in a 3-1 win in Shah Alam.

Cesc Fabregas, who put an end to speculation about his future this week, was the inspiration behind los Cules' display and he opened the scoring.

Malaysia's Mohd Amri Yahyah, though, soon had the hosts on level terms shortly after.

However, Fabregas turned provider for Neymar and Gerard Pique to wrap up the victory.

With Barcelona's title defense getting underway against Levante in just over a week, Gerardo Martino named a strong

starting XI for his final preseason contest, although he was without Lionel Messi and Pedro who had both suffered knocks in the 7-1 win against Thailand.

Despite the Liga champions dominating early proceedings, it was the Asian side which nearly took the lead on 20 minutes when Norshahrul Idlan Talaha capitalized on a mix-up between Pique and Sergio Busquets, but the striker watched his neat chip over Victor Valdes strike the foot of the post.

The possession stats weighed heavily in Barca's favor but the Spanish side found it difficult to break down a well-organized and disciplined Malaysian defense.

Neymar and Andres Iniesta both went close with curling individual efforts, before Fabregas, occupying the false no.9 role, gave Barcelona the lead.

Jordi Alba collected Neymar's pass in his stride and his lofted cross was headed weakly across goal by Fabregas for goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi to fumble into the bottom corner.

Barcelona's lead lasted only eight minutes, however, as Alba failed to deal with a long diagonal pass from the left, allowing Mohd Amri Yahyah to emphatically thump the rebound past Valdes from the edge of the box.

Neymar has enjoyed a promising start to his Blaugrana career and he restored the lead two minutes before the break with a wonderful display of technique and composure.

The Brazilian collected Fabregas' pass with his back to goal, before effortlessly rolling his marker and coolly slotting past Fahmi.

Substitute Cristian Tello looked to celebrate his first international call-up with a goal but after being picked out by Fabregas' superb reverse pass, but the Spanish winger could only fire narrowly wide under pressure.

However, it was another of Barcelona's Spanish contingent who wrapped up the scoring on 75 minutes.

Fabregas was the architect once again as he chipped a precise ball through for Pique, who showed all the qualities of a striker by controlling expertly and firing high past substitute goalkeeper Mohd Farizal Marlias.