Adriano Correia

As they were in their last two visits to El Molinon, Barça were really made to work hard by Sporting and they ran out winners thanks to a single first half goal from Adriano –though they could easily have increased their lead in a dominant first 45 minutes. After the break the game was more evenly balanced, with Barça controlling the home team's efforts, despite losing Abidal to injury and, in truth, Valdes was rarely under threat.

The win puts Barça at the top of La Liga going into the international break, with 14 points alongside Llevant, but with a better goal difference.

Adriano opens the scoring

Guardiola began the game with another tactical innovation, sending out a 3-3-4 line up, with Pedro playing as a false number nine, Messi a little behind him and Villa and Adriano out wide. The system helped Barça dominate and after a Xavi shot had bounced off the woodwork, Adriano was quick to pounce and his shot deflected off Canella past Sporting keeper Juan Pablo to give Barça a deserved early lead.

Dominant Barça

One up, Barça now began to completely take charge and Thiago and Villa combined on the left to nearly double the lead before Messi had a penalty shout turned down by the ref. The second looked to be a matter of when not if, as Sporting defended en masse and could only muster a couple of counter attacks before the break.

Abidal injury and return to back four

The hosts upped their game in the second half though., and played with a greater intensity and more presence in attack, upsetting Barça's rhythm, which was further disturbed by Abidal's injury, forcing Guardiola to bring on Maxwell and Piqué for the Frenchman and Pedro, whilst reverting to a traditional back four. After a first 25 minutes or so under immense local pressure, Barça began to take control again and take the sting out of any Sporting threat by employing their trademark domination of possession and not allowing the hosts a sniff of a chance.

ELS GOLS

0-1, Adriano (min 12)