Barcelona backed up their victory in Saturday’s Clasico with a 3-0 win at Celta Vigo to ensure the continuation of their reign at the Primera Division summit. Alexis Sanchez struck the opening goal inside 10 minutes at the Estadio Balaidos, before an unfortunate own goal by Celta keeper Yoel doubled Barcelona’s lead after Cesc Fabregas had struck the crossbar early in the second half. Fabregas himself made the result safe minutes later.
After the 2-1 victory over Real Madrid at the weekend, Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino talked of the psychological boost his side had received. But there were perhaps signs of some mental and physical fatigue in an opening 45 minutes where the visitors had things from their own way.
Still, they were helped by an ideal start courtesy of the man who scored a stunning lob to seal victory in El Claisco. This time Sanchez’s task was far more straightforward. Fabregas stole possession inside the Celta half and, after playing a quick-one, two found himself with a run on goal down the left of the area. His low shot was saved by Yoel but Sanchez was on hand to roll the ball into the net.
Subdued at the weekend, it was to be another frustrating match in front of goal for Lionel Messi. He showed his brilliant dribbling ability to twist and turn past defenders down the right of the box, but couldn’t produce a finish to double his side’s lead.
Following that miss, Barcelona were left thankful for their again impressive goalkeeper Victor Valdes for maintaining their lead heading into the half-time interval. It was the man on loan from the Camp Nou, Rafinha, who came closest to finding the net. The younger brother of former Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara had already fired just past the post when his shot from just inside the area was perhaps just too close to Victor Valdes, enabling the keeper to make a smart save.
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Having survived, Barcelona upped their game after the break and went onto secure a comfortable win. Both goals came inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half and both were created by the tandem of Messi and Fabregas. First the Argentinean showcased his quick feet to befuddle some Celta defenders before exchanging passes with Alex Song and feeding it to Fabregas. The midfielder struck a fine effort from 20 yards that came back off the crossbar but dropped down onto the back of the prone Yoel and trickled agonizingly over the line.
In the 54th minute the result was put beyond doubt. Messi had ample space to move into running through the middle before shifting a simple pass to his left for Fabregas, who fired clinically across Yoel into the bottom corner.
It proved a frustrating reunion for Celta coach and former Barcelona player and coach Luis Enrique. His side, who remain in the lower reaches of La Liga, also hit the crossbar through a Nolito free-kick as they tried in vain to get on the score sheet. But, while Celta might have had more of a say in the eventual outcome of the match, Barcelona could also have run out more resounding winners. Messi seemed destined not to score, with Yoel keeping him out on a number of occasions.