“Without Tono in goal, it would have been a cricket score.” – Ray Hudson on Racing’s goalkeeper…
Barcelona sought to redeem itself after it’s mid-week loss to Betis – it’s first in 28 matches – and the Culers were barely in their seats before Pedro said he apologized personally for the loss. It was 1-0 Barcelona in the 2nd minute after he chested in a pass from David Villa (after a mesmerizing run by Messi), and we were all reminded that this was a Liga match, not a meaningless (it was already 5-0) second leg in the Copa.
The Racing goalkeeper kept his side in the match all day, but Barcelona just wouldn’t be denied. David Villa, sprinting into the box was tripped, so Messi said “Happy Birthday” to his mom with a penalty kick in the 33rd minute, making it 2-0. Converting, he redeemed himself after the embarrassing miss mid-week. And off a deflection, Iniesta made it almost impossible for Racing as he made it 3-0 in the 56th minute.
Adrian played a sparkling match for the Santander side getting 4 shots off, 2 of them on goal, but Valdes kept the sheet clean. He made another brilliant start, giving the Zamora voters another look at their future winner. Barcelona again held a distinct possession advantage (75% – 25%) and with a healthy Puyol back on defense, the majority of the chances Valdes saw were quick counter attacks, nothing too tricky.
With the win, Barcelona moves to 7 points ahead of Madrid in the league standings pending their match against Mallorca tomorrow. The first leg of the Copa del Rey semis are on wednesday, and we’ll find out if Barcelona will field a squad like they did today, or if talented subs like Afellay, Bojan and Milito will be called in because of the short break.