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The win allows Barça to finish their 2019 summer tour in Japan on a high note, as the team will now refocus their attention on Sunday’s Joan Gamper Trophy match at Camp Nou, one day before the full squad heads to the United States for a pair of friendlies with Napoli in Miami and Ann Arbor.
But perhaps the most notable aspect of Saturday’s clash of Rakuten-sponsored teams was the reunion it produced between Barça and three of its former players — Andrés Iniesta, David Villa, and Sergi Samper — who now play for Vissel Kobe. The trio of former blaugranas were all in the starting eleven against their former side. Iniesta was the most productive of the three, providing Vissel Kobe’s two best scoring opportunities on the night.
The game was scoreless heading into halftime, but after the break, Barça not only found the net twice, but hit the woodwork two times as well.
Two minutes after the restart, Malcom Oliveira hit the post, and then later on, in the 77th, the Brazilian fired another shot off the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Malcolm set up Pérez’s first goal just beyond the hour mark, with the two forwards executing a textbook give-and-go that Pérez finished with aplomb, sending a low shot through the five-hole of Vissel Kobe goalkeeper Daiya Maekawa.
But Pérez wasn’t done, and four minutes from time, the 21-year-old Catalan found the net again, firing a shot with his left foot back across the box, off the inside of the right post and into the net.
Before Pérez’s second strike, midfielder Carles Aleñá also had a golden opportunity in the 72nd, but his close range chip-shot was snatched out of the air by the keeper.
Don Andrés's night
The opening minutes of the first half generated the most excitement, with Iniesta coming close to opening the scoring on four minutes, when his left-footed shot from outside the area went just wide to the right of a diving Marc-André ter Stegen.
Four minutes later, Iniesta found Dankler in front of the net, but the Brazilian defender nodded high over the net.
Barça had back to back chances to take the lead just shy of the quarter-hour mark, but Riqui Puig missed from near the penalty spot and Rafinha’s long-range blast was saved.
Ivan Rakitic had multiple shots blocked before halftime, — and another that was saved — while at the other end, Iniesta had Vissel Kobe’s second-best chance in the 40th, which was gobbled up by Ter Stegen.
Perhaps Barça’s best chance of the game came in the 42nd, when Antoine Griezmann came streaking through the box, but he chipped his one-time shot over the bar.
With the match scoreless at halftime, Barça manager Ernesto Valverde made wholesale changes for the second half, one of which was to bring on Pérez for Álex Collado, a move that would pay later pay dividends.
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