An FC Barcelona team with an average age of just 22.7 years in the starting line-up overcame BATE Borisov with exquisite football to end the group with 16 points
None of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta or several other big names from the first team were on the field, but tonight's display from Barça was as brilliant as ever. The Catalans were simply too good for BATE Borisov in the final game of the group stages, a victory that is yet another wonderful tribute to the amazing work being done by the staff and players at la Masía, in which the Camp Nou was able to celebrate goals from Sergi Roberto, Montoya and Pedro (2). No fewer than nine members of Barça B played their part in a win by a side with an average age of just 22.7. They may only be youngsters, but there was nothing immature about the way they performed. As was made patent on Tuesday night, the future, or even the present, is bright at Barcelona.
Sergi Roberto opens scoring
Guardiola may have picked a side that featured mainly players that ply their trade in the Miniestadi, but right from the kickoff they looked quite comfortable on the bigger stage. They maintained almost all of the possession, and had BATE Borisov pegged back in their own half for almost the entire first half, with Rafinha almost opening the scoring with practically the first move of the night.
It was a constant onslaught on the Belarusian goal. The Alcántara brothers, Pedro, Sergi Roberto and an stupendous Cuenca showed a clear understanding as they produced chance after chance. And it was Sergi Roberto who finally broke the deadlock in the 35th minute to finish off a delightful combination move. These might not have been the players the Camp Nou faithful are used to seeing, but the football was exactly the same.
Cuenca on song
The second half produced more of the same. The visitors barely got a look-in as FCB played the ball around fast and smoothly, with excellent chances for Pedro and Sergi Roberto to extend the lead, while Fontàs had a goal disallowed for offside. But the second goal looked inevitable and finally came through Cuenca, who with a flash of brilliance following an assist from Montoya, made no mistake on his European debut.
Pedro bags brace
The early moments of the second half were the best of all from Barça, with the crowd shrieking with delight at such fast and entertaining football. It was no surprise when the third goal appeared, this time following a splendid move involving Pedro, Montoya and Cuenca, the latter providing the final assist, which was backheeled home by the Canary Islander.
Riverola makes debut
With the result decided, Guardiola gave three further members of the Barça B squad the chance to make their Champions League debuts. Muniesa, Deulofeu and Riverola (the latter playing first team football for the first time ever) came on for Dos Santos, Rafinha and Sergi Roberto. And there was still time for another goal. Cuenca, shortly after hitting the post, was brought down in the penalty area and Pedro rounded off a magical night for the Barça youth system by converting the ensuing spot kick. It was the perfect end to an almost immaculate group campaign.