August 7, 2013
Behind a hat trick for Pedro, a brace for Lionel Messi and a scintillating showing from Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona smoked host Thailand, 7-1, on Wednesday.
Not surprisingly, it took Barcelona just over 10 minutes to score the first goal.
Messi made space for himself atop the box before sending a pass to Fabregas down the left side of the box. From there, the Manchester United target whipped in a low cross and Neymar did the rest, tapping home his first goal for the Catalans.
Two minutes later, Messi doubled the lead.
The explosive Argentine ran under a lofted through ball and brought it down in the box, where he was promptly bullied to the ground by a Thailand defender, earning the penalty.
Messi took it himself and buried it, giving Barcelona a 2-0 lead.
The goals would keep on coming.
Dani Alves found Messi in the box with a cross in the 18th minute, but Messi couldn't quite settle the ball. Instead, he nicked it over to Pedro, who blazed a near-post shot past the keeper.
The rout was on.
Messi would get his second goal about eight minutes later. After a quick free-kick, Adriano found Messi in the box and the dangerous forward had only to tap home for the goal.
Another moment of Messi brilliance led to Barcelona's fifth tally.
After somehow both winning the ball off a Thailand player and keeping the ball in play, he scampered down the left side before ripping a centering feed into the box. Sergi Roberto brilliantly dummied the ball and it fell to Pedro, who ripped his shot into the right side of the net for his second tally.
Surprise, surprise—Thailand earned a penalty in the 42nd minute.
Bagnack was guilty of committing the penalty, though it both looked as though it was outside the box and perhaps not a penalty at all, as the Thailand player baited the young defender before embellishing his fall.
Teerasil Dangda calmly stepped up for Thailand and scored on the penalty.
That would take the game to the half. Dermot Corrigan of ESPN pretty succinctly recapped the first 45:
Yup, pretty much.
Barcelona needed about two minutes to get on the board in the second half. Fabregas played a majestic ball over the top to Pedro, who replicated his teammate's brilliance with a wonderful volley lob over the keeper.
If you so much as looked away after that goal, you probably missed Barcelona's seventh score, as it came a minute later.
This time, Fabregas played second-half substitute Andres Iniesta into the box, who probably could have taken the shot himself—instead, he slid the ball across the face of the goal. Alexis Sanchez was waiting for it, and easily tapped home his first goal of the game after coming on at halftime.
With many of Barcelona's second team in the game and talisman Fabregas subbed out in the 65th minute, the game slowed from there, and no more goals were scored.
No matter—Barcelona had already put on a plenty exciting show.
Man of the Match: Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona
Fabregas seemed to be in the middle of everything in this match, and his pass to Pedro to open the second-half scoring was a thing of beauty. It's clear Fabregas wants to earn a steady place in the first 11 this season, and he proved it against Thailand, overshadowing several Barcelona players who also gave top-notch performances.
Messi only played one half, but his two goals and another wonderful assist ensured he left his mark on the proceedings. All Pedro did was score a hat trick, and yet on such a talented Barcelona side, that wasn't enough to get him Man of the Match honors. Neymar got his first goal for the Catalans, though his performance was more accurately marked by his habit of earning a collection of fouls.
Barcelona next face Malaysia XI on August 10 before opening their league campaign against Levante on August 18.
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