Bartra and Suárez celebrate the first goal of the preseason / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

FC Barcelona got their preseason off to a fine start with a 2-1 victory against MLS champions Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena in front of an astonishing crowd of 93,226. Goals from Luis Suárez and Sergi Roberto put the Catalans well in command, and Tommy Meyer’s 92nd minute header merely served as late consolation for the Californian outfit.

Suárez breaks the deadlock

There was a carnival atmosphere in the stands, but the football in the first 45 minutes did not always rise to the occasion. Barça were still trying to get into their rhythm in their first game after the summer break against a side that is already deep into its own season. But the Galaxy limited most of their efforts to frustrating the Catalan game-plan.  Bartra with a header after four minutes, Suárez with a couple of long range efforts, Rafinha also from outside the area and a Sergi Roberto strike that Galaxy keeper Rowe tipped behind for a corner were Barça’s best chances, but Galaxy managed to hold on for the first 45 minutes.

That was until the very last play of the half. A sublime assist from Bartra set up Luis Suárez, who slammed the ball home to net Barça’s first goal of the 2015/16 preseason. It was no less than the European champions deserved.

Sergi Roberto extends lead

Barça looked a lot more incisive after the break, when Luis Enrique made seven changes to his eleven. Several chances went begging but it looked like only a matter of time before they’d be extending their lead. And that proved to be the case. The 56th minute saw Sergi Roberto latch onto a loose ball in the Galaxy area and make it 2-0.

Moments after scoring, Sergi Roberto was replaced by Gumbau, while goalkeeper Jordi Masip also came off to make way for Barça B stopper José Aurelio Suárez. The debutant was called upon almost immediately to deal with Galaxy’s first real chance of the game, a Mendiola effort after 72 minutes, and he also showed his worth after 84 minutes to deny Buddle.

Galaxy consolation

By this stage the result wasn’t really in any serious doubt, and Barça could afford to ease off, although a third goal looked to be on the cards with five minutes left on the clock when Sandro collected the ball from a corner and sent it hammering onto the Galaxy bar.

Just as things were winding up, in the very final play of the match, Galaxy’s Tommy Meyer got his head on the end of a corner and powered the ball past Suárez to score what was only ever going to be a consolation goal for his side. All in all, it was a confident return to action for Luis Enrique’s men, who now head for San Francisco for the second of their three games in the US, on Saturday against Manchester United.

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