Barcelona coach hails 'one-off' Iniesta | sports | Hindustan Times
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Barcelona coach hails 'one-off' Iniesta

sports Updated: Oct 20, 2011 09:02 IST

AFP
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Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola hailed Andres Iniesta as a 'one-off' talent in a side dominated by Lionel Messi after the Spanish giants' 2-0 Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen.

Iniesta put Barca ahead after 10 minutes, following an excellent interchange with Messi which cut open the Czech defence, with the second goal coming eight minutes from time when David Villa seized on a loose ball.

While Messi was at his majestic best, and was denied by the woodwork on two occasions, Iniesta also produced a superb display of movement and passing which Guardiola was keen to highlight.

"Iniesta is a one-off, he works harder than anyone and scores more goals than people think," he said.

"He gives an important balance to the side. In my first two seasons he played a part in us doing so well but last season he was crucial in us winning La Liga and the Champions League. I think this season he will continue to be crucial."

However, the coach added: "It was a good game but not an exhibition of football from us.

"We played a difficult opponent and produced a solid performance although we were too slack at times leaving ourselves open on the counter-attack.

"It is never easy when the opposition is defending very deep but it was not just a case of the ball not going in, we were not clinical enough."

Wednesday's win, which saw Barcelona stay level with AC Milan on seven points in Group H, also saw the defending champions' fifth straight clean sheet and this was without their two main centre halves, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique.

Javier Mascherano though produced another assured display alongside Eric Abidal in a makeshift partnership.

"It is not as though we are doing anything better now at the back which means we are not conceding, although we are always working to reduce chances. You cannot stop goals but just try and make it more difficult for the opposition," said Guardiola.

"Javier (Mascherano) is playing very well and has adapted excellently to the position. He is one of the best central defenders around at the moment as you can see in the way he helped us win the Champions League."

Plzen coach Pavel Vrba was full of admiration for Barcelona.

"The individual quality of the Barcelona players and their performance was perfect, there is no other way to describe it," he said.

"We can be happy with the first half in the way that we played although we lost balls that we shouldn't have done due to the pressure from Barcelona.

"Obviously we cannot be completely happy with the result but it is not possible for us to play at the same level as Milan or Barcelona.

"You can see how strong Barcelona are in the way they have been far better than the sides they have played in Spain with only Valencia giving them a match."