Barcelona (FCB).- Unai Emery’s ultra-conservative Spartak Moscow caused Barça a few problems as they managed a 1-2 lead on the hour, with two goals from Messi then turning the result round and giving FC Barcelona a win in this season’s Champions League debut.
Piqué injury and Tello goal
Emery, who when he managed Valencia used to cause Barça trouble down the flanks, this time went for packing the centre, with a deep defence, ceding territory and possession to Barça from the start, as Vilanova’s team laid siege to the Russians’ defence, with the visitors only threat coming from counter attacks.
Barça’s first chance on 7 minutes ended with Piqué getting injured and Song coming on to form a centre back partnership with Mascherano. Soon after, Tello opened the scoring with a brilliant goal, cutting inside his man and firing in an unstoppable effort.
Barça were showing patience as they dominated the game, but on one of the few occasions that Spartak made their way into the hosts’ half, they drew level when Dano Alves deflected a cross into his own net just before the half hour mark.
Without a shot on target, Spartak had a draw and although Busquets (min 32) and Cesc (min 36) came close, Messi was in truth finding it hard to find a way through the packed visitors’ defence.
Spartak take shock lead
With space at a premium near to the Spartak goal, Barça continued to struggle to find the pace and precision to break down the Russians’ stranglehold and when they did get through, as they did on 58 minutes, the keeper Dicamp made a great stop from Messi. To add insult to injury, Romulo scored a shock second goal in the very next move with a shot across Valdes’ goal.
Tito Vilanova was aware of the urgency of the situation and brought on Alexis for Alves and set up a 3-4-3 formation, with the Chilean up front and no out and out defenders at all on the pitch. Spartak retreated to their own box and Barça began to snap the ball around, getting their reward on 70 minutes when Tello broke down the left to set up Messi to make it 2-2.
With Villa now on, the last twenty minutes saw a siege on the Spartak goal, culminating in a brilliant Messi header to put Barça ahead once more. With the game won, Barça ran down the clock, holding onto the ball till the whistle went, ensuring the first win of the group stages.