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MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic notched one goal apiece as FC Barcelona rolled to a 2-1 victory over Napoli on Wednesday night at Hard Rock Stadium.
Napoli pulled one back in the 42nd, four minutes after Busquets opened the scoring, when Barça’s Samuel Umtiti redirected a low cross into his own net.
But in the 79th, Rakitic picked up a long rebound and settled before firing a low tracer just inside the left post. The goal was reminiscent of his strike against Tottenham in last season’s Champions League group stage, which was nominated for the competition’s goal of the season.
The victory is Barça’s third in a row in the preseason, including wins over Vissel Kobe in Japan two weeks ago and over Arsenal in Sunday’s Joan Gamper Trophy.
Napoli had more chances in the first half, but were unable to capitalize, thanks to the stellar goalkeeping of Neto, whose biggest stop came in the 19th minute, when Lorenzo Insigne was all alone in front of Neto, only to see his shot from point-blank range swatted away.
Neto, however, was unable to make amends for a rare Umtiti error, and the own-goal knotted the game up, but only until Rakitic bagged the game-winner 11 minutes from time.
As always, Barça’s matches in the United States are highly demonstrative of the general fervor exhibited by the Club’s the American fanbase, which once again came out in large numbers to catch a rare, live glimpse of their beloved blaugranas.
While the announced attendance of 57,062 was well shy of Hard Rock Stadium’s capacity of 65,000+, the lack of a sell-out was largely due to doubts over whether the full squad would make the trip overseas. In the end, it did, but one player did not make the journey: Leo Messi suffered an injury hours before the team’s flight to Miami.