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Barça to the Champions League quarter-finals / PHOTO: Àlex Caparrós FCB

Barça displayed its best form to dazzle Europe today. The defensive performance was almost perfect and their offence was lethal. FC Barcelona overturned the two-goal deficit from France to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals this Sunday.

The game started off perfectly for the Catalan side. Rutenka took it upon himself to open up the scoring at the Palau from the penalty spot, but Grajic responded and Montpelier was ready for a fight.

Laszlo Nagy carried the Catalan team with three goals from the exterior. While, Nikola Karabatic, Montpelier’s star, wasn’t abel to overcome the Barça defence planned by Xavi Pascual. The specialist Rutenka, again from the five meter spot, made it 5-3. Onle a lucky goal from Noddesbo brought the French team close, who were in need of an absent Kacticnik (injured).

Complete domination

From that point on, a great intervention from Daniel Saric and Barça’s effectiveness on offence completely overpowered the visitors. The constant loss of possession from Karabatic, plus the exclusion of Accambray, facilitated Barça’s onslaught. Juanín Garcia, taking advantage of the keeper/player, scored a goal from his own half after winning the ball back. While the winger Juanín drove the French defence crazy by making it 10-3.

The gap grows, the crowd goes wild

The timeout didn’t help the French team, who were completely overrun by Barça. When it wasn’t the Catalan’s defensive intensity that blocked the French initiatives, it was Saric that saved the shots in goal. The French team, however, were able to score, but Sorhaindo and Nagy, with a powerful shot, made it clear that Barça were out for the win (12-4). Thanks to an inspired Sarmiento and a genius Nagy, Barça maintained their advantage of nine goals throughout the first half

Maintaining the distance

At the start of the second half, Montpelier tried to cut into Barça’s lead, but the Catalans wouldn’t allow it. Juanín gave Barça their biggest advantage of the night after a lighting-quick counterattack to make the lead of over the visitors open up to 12 goals.

The team led by Xavi Pascual managed the game perfectly after the advantage of the first half and they maintained their intensity throughout the game. Two exclusions for Barça, Nagy and Jernemyr, made it look like the French team might battle back, however the party didn’t stop at the Palau. In the last minutes of the match, Saric brought the spectators to their feet as he put in some fantastic saves, while Rutenka, unfortunately, was shown a straight red card.

At the end, Barça Intersport successfully mounted a comeback and they sealed their place in the quarter-finals thanks to a 36-20 scoreline. Xavi Pascual’s team awaits their next rival in the Champions League.

MATCH STATS

Barça Intersport, 36
Montpeller, 20

FC Barcelona Intersport: Saric (Sjostrand), Noddesbo (5), Juanín (5, 1p), Víctor Tomás (2), Nagy (6), Raúl Entrerríos (2), Rutenka (5, 3p) –starting line-up- Sorhaindo (2), Sarmiento (6), Ugalde (1), Jernemyr, Mikel, Rocas (1), Viran and Igropulo (1).

Montpellier Agglomération: Stochl (Prost), Tej (1), Grebille (4), N. Karabatic (4), L. Karabatic, Hmam (2), Gajic (7, 5p) –starting line-up- Honrubia (1), Accambray, Guigou, Bojinovic and Salou (1).

Score at intervals of 5 minutes: 3-2, 5-3, 7-3, 10-4, 14-6, 17-8 (halftime), 20-11, 22-13, 25-14, 27-17, 31-19 and 36-20 (final)

Referee: Nenad Krstic and Peter Ljubic.

Venue: Palau Blaugrana. 6,677 spectators.

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