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PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Six wins out of six in La Liga and six points out of six in the Champions League group G. Barça got their second win in Europe’s premier club competition thanks to a convincing performance at the Stadium of Light, where Benfica were outplayed for most of the 90 minutes, especially in the second half. Alexis and Cesc scored the goals, one in each half, but there were also sorry notes to the evening. Puyol was forced to withdraw with yet another injury and Busquets was sent off towards the end of the game.

Alexis early doors

The game had barely kicked off in Lisbon when Barça were already ahead. A quick combination play down the left was finished with an exquisite assist from Messi that Alexis slotted home expertly. It was the first goal of the season for the Chilean, who was one of FCB’s most active players in the first forty five minutes. He came close to scoring a second just moments later and in another move provided a killer pass to Messi, but goalkeeper Artur managed to keep the ball out.

Benfica try

But Barça didn’t have everything their way. Especially after conceding the opening goal, Benfica upped the ante and pressed hard in search of an equaliser. And they might have got it had Valdés not been in such inspired form. As the half drew to an end, the visitor’s started surrendering more possession than they are used to doing, and could almost count themselves fortunate to have managed to hold onto their lead.

Game over

In the second half, Barça were back to their usual selves, and imposed their game on their Portuguese hosts. In one of the best 45 minutes of the season, they controlled the ball and the pace, and created chance after chance. The second goal was almost inevitable, and finally came when Messi picked out Cesc coming in from behind, and the captain blasted a powerful left-footed drive past Artur. Barça thoroughly deserved the 2-0 lead, and the remainder of the game was a mere matter of running down the clock.

Puyol injured

With the win as good as settled, Tito Vilanova sent on Iniesta for his first run-out since getting injured. But just as one man returned, another one was lost. Carles Puyol, while jumping to meet a corner in the opposing area, tumbled awkwardly and twisted his elbow nastily. It was rotten luck for the captain, who has only just returned to action following another injury. And there was more bad news when Busquets was shown red with minutes left to play, an extraordinary situation considering that it was the Benfica players who had been incessantly committing fouls all night.


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