World Football - Brilliant Barca win World Club Cup
Barcelona are officially the best club side in the world after beating South American champions Santos 4-0 in the final of the Club World Cup at the Yokohama Stadium in Japan.
"It may have looked easy but it certainly wasn't," said Barca captain Carles Puyol after the game.
"The early goals made it easier for us. We never doubted ourselves and kept their forwards under control. It was a complete performance."
The pick of the goals was the first on 16 minutes. Messi looked to be running the wrong way before checking back and setting up Xavi, who in turn released the Argentine through the legs of Durval. Messi took advantage of the defensive lapse and chipped the ball into the back of the net, despite the best efforts of Rodrigo on the line.
Seven minutes later, Xavi scored the second. After a great spell of passing in midfield, Dani Alves crossed low towards the edge of the box. Rodrigo committed himself too early and Xavi slammed home his seventh goal of the season from 15 yards.
Fabregas hit the post in the 28th minute, having slipped past the Santos defence to run on to a scooped Xavi pass, but the former Arsenal skipper was not to be denied an 11th goal in 20 appearances for the club he joined last summer.
It came in the final minute of the first half, sidefooting home a loose ball after Santos goalkeeper Rafael could only parry Thiago Alcantara’s header. Messi was again the architect as the 24-year-old kept the ball alive with a backheel to set up Alves for the cross.
It had been a masterclass by Barcelona against the official best team in South America, and a rout looked on the cards in the second half. Fabregas again went close at the start of the second period: the midfielder won the ball and gave the ball to Messi down the right channel, but when it came back he was put off by Rodrigo while shooting and Rafael was able to save.
A couple of minutes later, there finally arrived a chance for Santos. Ganso found Borgas on the right but Neymar made a mess of his header from the resultant cross, the ball coming off his shoulder.
It was a sobering night for the 19-year-old, who was linked with a move to Real Madrid before signing a new deal with Santos. He will now be aware that he is still some way off the standard of La Liga - certainly in terms of being a star there.
"It's impossible to stop Barcelona," shrugged Brazil's teenage sensation afterwards. "They are the best team in the world with fantastic players.
"But we are the second-best team in the world and for us that is a great reward."
His strike partner Borges had a chance in the 54th minute when Ganso ran at the Barcelona back three and released Elano, who slipped in the 31-year-old - but his control was heavy and Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes was able to save.
With 10 minutes to go, Barcelona hit the post through the impressive Alves. Santos thought the right-back was offside, but he was onside during the second phase and substitute Pedro was alive to that fact.
Santos had managed to keep the Spanish giants from scoring in the second half, but their defence was to be breached again eight minutes from time.
Messi's second of the game, and 29th of the season, arrived when Alves bravely won the ball and set him up in the box; he seemed to overrun the ball but beat Rafael to it nonetheless and sidestepped him before tapping home.
Alves almost capped his fine individual display with a goal two minutes from time, getting on the end of a sublime Pedro chested pass - but, caught in two minds as to whether he should shoot or cross, he shinned his effort over the crossbar.