Champions League - Fabregas scores as Barca win Super Cup

Fri, 26 Aug 22:01:00 2011

Cesc Fabregas came off the bench to score Barcelona's second as they beat nine-man Porto 2-0 in the Super Cup at the Stade Louis II Stadium in Monaco.

Cesc Fábregas - Barcelona - 0

Lionel Messi scored after 39 minutes as he capitalised on Freddy Guarin's poor back pass to stroke the ball into the net. Cesc Fabregas was introduced in the second half and sealed Barca's victory with a well taken goal, finishing from six yards. The Portuguese side had Rolando and Guarin sent off late on to complete a miserable ending to the match they started brightly.

Porto failed to score in a closely contested first half but had a few half-chances through Joao Moutinho, who controlled well inside the box to shoot across goal, forcing Victor Valdes into a smart stop.

Hulk also showed some promise for the Portuguese champions as he cut in from the right, jinking his way past two challenges, before attempting to whip the ball into the far corner, seeing it fly narrowly wide.

The underdogs were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the second half when Eric Abidal appeared to trip Guarin in the penalty area.

The current Champions League holders, who recently claimed the Spanish Super Cup with a 6-5 aggregate win over arch rivals Real Madrid, looked very rusty at the outset.

As expected, they controlled possession but failed to penetrate the very disciplined Porto backline for the majority of the opening half.

In sharp contrast, Porto looked very lively and despite only having 30% of the possession during the opening 45 minutes, they looked more dangerous on the attack.

Victor Valdes in the Barcelona net was the first keeper to be tested when Joao Moutinho received the ball on the left of the penalty area before turning inside and volleying towards the far post. The effort may have been flying narrowly wide but Valdes couldn't be sure and was forced to turn it around the post for a corner.

David Villa kept testing the Porto backline with a number of runs off the last defender's shoulder, but the Portuguese side were very organised and managed to frustrate the World Cup winner, who was constantly flagged offside.

Barcelona then had a decent chance to take the lead when a lucky deflection from Andres Iniesta's through ball fell into the path of Pedro in the penalty area. The winger had time to take a touch before finishing but elected to lob the keeper Helton. The lobbed effort looped over the custodian's head but fell onto the roof of the net.

Barcelona kept plugging away despite moments of uncharacteristically sloppy passing and were rewarded in the most unlikely way six minutes before the half time whistle.

The Portuguese champions hadn't a great deal of joy when going forward throughout the half but made sure to keep their opponents' opportunities to a minimum.

However, Guarin picked up the ball following a Barcelona attack and looked to build one of his own. The Colombian midfielder skipped past one challenge deep in his own half before attempting to play the ball back to Rolando. The pass was misplaced and rolled into the path of Messi on the edge of the penalty area.

The Argentine took a number of close touches before superbly rounding the onrushing Helton, faking to come inside before going the opposite way, and slotting the ball calmly into an empty net.

Barcelona were much more settled in the second half and grew into the game, completing over three times as many passes as their opponents.

Guarin looked to make amends for his earlier error after ten second-half minutes when he collected the ball forty yards out before smashing an effort on goal.

Valdes, a virtual spectator for much of the second half, had to be on his toes to get down low to his left in order to push the ball around the post for a corner.

The Spanish side then had a number of half-chances as Villa, and then Pedro, should have done better with close-range efforts.

With 11 minutes to go, Abidal looked to usher the ball out of play for a goal kick but after realising there wasn't enough pace on the ball, he opted to run the ball out of trouble.

The French defender took a heavy touch which let in Guarin. Keen to make up for the error, Abidal lunged at the ball in an attempt to keep it under his control. However, all he could do was haul the Porto danger-man to the floor.

Much to the utter frustration of the Porto players, manager and fans, referee Bjorn Kuipers waved play on.

Cesc Fabregas was introduced a minute later as he replaced Pedro Rodriguez and it was the former Arsenal man that contributed to Rolando's eventual red card.

Lionel Messi looked to break and had Fabregas on one side and substitute Alexis Sanchez on the other. The Barca star cut the ball back and was brought down by the Porto defender who had already been booked. The referee had no other choice than to order him off the pitch.

Then came Fabregas' moment of magic. The midfielder made a trademark run into the penalty area and was picked out by a wonderful ball from Messi. The Barcelona number four took one touch on his chest before volleying into the net from six yards.

Guarin, who had a miserable evening, was then given his marching orders after a lunge on Javier Mascherano.

But with an already-talented squad bolstered by such high-quality summer signings, Barcelona have reminded Europe of the standards they will need to match.

Joshua Hayward - On Twitter @JoshuaHayward99 / Eurosport

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