Siarhei Rutenka top scorer with 10 goals / PHOTO: VÍCTOR SALGADO - FCB

The Barça handball team started their 2015 in the best way possible with a victory over Naturhouse La Rioja. Following the break for the recent World Championship in Qatar, Xavi Pascual’s side were back in action in the first leg of the Spanish Cup quarter-finals in a game that looked a tough contest on paper. Naturhouse came to the Palau Blaugrana with two former Barça players in their ranks, Juanin García and Alberto Rocas, and in form as they currently sit second in the Asobal League. Siarhei Rutenka was the star of the show with 10 goals in the game - World Championship silver medallist Saric was not far behind with an excellent performance in goal.

Rutenka scores, Saric saves

Barça opened up an early advantage in the first half that they were never to surrender. Rutenka took control and the captain seemed comfortable in his more natural position. The introduction of Victor Tomás and Kiril Lazarov helped the home side make it to half time with a 20-13 lead. The script did not change in the second half with Saric still impeccable between the posts. Jesper Noddesbo took some of the pressure off Rutenka in the goalscoring stakes for Barça With several player only just having returned after the World Championship, the pace inevitably dropped towards the end. Nevertheless, the blaugranes retained an important 11 goal advantage on the night ahead of the second leg which will be played in Logroño on 1 April.

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