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Barcelona 5 Chapecoense 0: Messi, Suarez hit their stride without Neymar

Gerard Deulofeu, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Denis Suarez got the goals as Barcelona thrashed Chapecoense at Camp Nou.

football Updated: Aug 08, 2017 19:31 IST
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Omnisport
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Barcelona and Chapecoense players pose before the 52nd Joan Gamper Trophy friendly football match between Barcelona FC and Chapecoense at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Monday. (AFP)

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were both on target in their first match without Neymar as Barcelona eased to a 5-0 win over Chapecoense in the Joan Gamper Trophy.

The feted ‘MSN’ forward line is no more after the Brazil superstar completed his world-record Euro 222 million (198 million Pounds) move to Paris Saint-Germain last week and it was a more unheralded player filling Neymar’s spot on the left of a three-man attack who struck first.

Gerard Deulofeu re-joined Barca during the close-season after his boyhood club activated a buyback option to bring him back from Everton following a successful loan stint at AC Milan and the 23-year-old winger linked pleasingly with Messi after opening his Camp Nou account.

Chapecoense were selected as opponents for Barcelona’s traditional curtain raiser to their domestic season to commemorate the 71 people – including 19 players – who died when the Brazilian club’s plane crashed en route to the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional last November.

Alan Ruschel, one of three playing survivors from the crash, captained the visitors and took to the field alongside colleagues Jakson Follmann and Neto for an emotional tribute before kick-off.

Sergio Busquets found the top corner with a superb long-range effort and Messi and Luis Suarez were on target either side of half-time, while Denis Suarez came off the bench to round off a useful workout ahead of Sunday’s Supercopa de Espana first leg against Real Madrid.

Unsurprisingly, goalkeeper Elias was the busiest Chapecoense player during the first half as Barca instantly clicked into gear.

Elias denied Messi and Luis Suarez at the end of flowing moves before Deulofeu tapped home Ivan Rakitic’s low cross at the far post in the sixth minute.

Busquet’s spectacular second left the over-worked 22-year-old with no chance before Wellington Paulista dragged wide from 25 yards, having found space on a rare Chapecoense counter-attack.

A dubious offside flag prevented Messi from teeing up a third for Gerard Pique, but the mercurial Argentine was on the scoresheet with half an hour played, receiving a return pass at the second attempt from Deulofeu and lashing high into the net.

Ruschel made way to a standing ovation when he was substituted in the 36th minute, while Luis Suarez was left baffled by his failure to get on the scoresheet by the break as Elias saved with his legs and produced an astonishing right-handed reaction save.

The Uruguay star got his goal nine minutes into the second half, beating Elias at the near post with a vicious strike following a deft one-two with Messi.

Denis Suarez will hope for more first-team opportunities under new head coach Ernesto Valverde and did his prospects no harm with an unerring low finish in the 74th minute, when Messi dropped deep to impeccably play creator once more.

New signing Nelson Semedo won an 89th-minute penalty, but Paco Alcacer’s poorly struck effort was saved by replacement goalkeeper Artur Moraes.

First Published: Aug 08, 2017 18:43 IST