FC Barcelona B won their first game at home in three months with an excellent performance against FC Cartagena on Saturday afternoon. Three goals, from Jonathan Soriano and Nolito (2), secured Barça B the three points. While they remain in 8th position with a total of 35 points, the win will hopefully prove a major confidence boost for the reserve team. Details of the match, highlights, and Luis Enrique’s reactions are all after the jump.
Albert Dalmau (Armando, 72′)
Jonathan Dos Santos
Rafa Alcántara (Víctor Vázquez, 61′)
Edu Oriol (Cristian Tello, 69′)
Bench: Oier Olazábal, Armando Lozano, Abraham Minero, Cristian Tello, VíctorVázquez, Saúl Berjón, and Benja Martínez
FC Cartagena: Casilla, Clavero, M. Sánchez, Chus Herrero (Goiria, 46′), Botelho, Longás, Cala, Toni Moral (Lafuente, 71′), Víctor, Rodri (José Carlos, 46′), and Pablo Ruiz
1-0, J. Soriano, 19′
2-0, Nolito (also attributed by some sources to Pablo Ruiz as an own goal), 67′
3-0, Nolito, 93′
Referee: Alejandro Hernández Hernández
Cards for Barça: Fontàs
Match Report (from Barça’s official site):
Barça B beat Cartagena at the Miniestadi in a terrific showing by Luis Enrique’s team. Jonathan Soriano and Nolito (2) got the goals in the reserves’ first home win for three months.
Luis Enrique said before the game that he wanted to see his side win at home again, and he got his wish, as well as the team making up for the 5-1 trouncing they suffered at the hands of the Murcian club earlier this season. Barça B had not won at home since November 2010 and had only won 10 of the last possible 36 points.
But they were convincing today against the seventh placed club in the second division. Juan Ignacio Martínez’s side were controlled out of the game, especially in the first half, and Barça B created chance after chance, with goals eventually being delivered by Soriano (min 19) and Nolito (min 67 and 93).
Youth player Albert Dalmau got his first start for Barça B, teaming up alongside the Alcántara brothers, Thiago and Rafa, the latter on his 18th birthday. Jonathan Dos Santos was the other member of a deadly midfield that forced Cartagena back into their own half for much of the game.
Thiago Alcántara almost scored from an opening minute header, a forewarning of a wonderful first 45 minutes for Barça B, who played like the first team, swallowing up the possession and delivering deft first touch football that led to such occasions as one for Jonathan Soriano, which ended up going just wide.
The side from Murcia could only trouble Luis Enrique from a free kick from the edge of the area, which Miño turned behind for a corner. For a while, Barça B were forced to weather a Cartagena storm, but that soon ended with the first goal in the 19th minute. Thiago Alcántara broke on the counter and found Nolito, who then laid the ball on for Soriano to beat Casilla with an angled shot.
Without giving the Murcians the chance to get their breath back, Nolito went one on one with Casilla, but was beaten by the keeper. Barça B were well in control by this point, and the defence had very little to deal with, and dealt with that little in expert fashion, with Miño only being called upon once to save a devilish strike from Víctor just before the break.
Cartagena came out with new life in the second half, and for the last 45 minutes Barça B were far less dominant. Dalmau was forced to make a last ditch tackle straight after the restart, Cala came close with a header and Toni Moral squandered what really should have been the equaliser. Barça B needed a goal, but it was Cartagena that looked more like scoring.
All that changed in the 67th minute when Nolito rounded two defenders and slotted the ball home to make it 2-0. That was a huge boost to morale, and the reserves once again had the game under their control. Tello had four chances to make it three, but the third and final goal didn’t arrive until injury time. It was Tello was set it up with a blistering run and an assist to Nolito, whose goal made certain of the first win at the Miniestadi for three months.
The result leaves Barça eighth in the table with 35 points, the same as today’s opponents Cartagena. That means they are just 15 points short of the 50 or so required to avoid relegation.
Luis Enrique: “We played a very complete match”
“We played against a rival who is above us in the table, seeking the spots for promotion, and we have had a very good game.”
“We have dominated the match in every moment, the possession of the ball for most of the time, we pressed the rival really well, we created enough scoring chances and suffered virtually no risk [of conceding] … We have played a very complete match … We clearly deserved the victory.”
“I am very happy for my players, I congratulate them.” The three points also help the team to maintain “a high level of confidence … Winning reaffirms the players, and keeping a clean sheet is great for us as the players see that all the defensive work we are doing is paying off.”
The win is also beneficial as inspiration as “the group continues to work.” According to the coach, the team is “competitive, and doing well in the division (not losing face) … It’s been a good season, but if you’re not careful, you pay.”
On Jonathan Dos Santos: “He’s had a very good game as a defensive midfielder. He has given us a lot of solidity in defense … I’m happy for him, he has a lot of competition in his position and has to take advantage of any opportunities.”
On the possible return of midfielder Sergi Roberto, who has overcome a thigh injury in his left quadriceps suffered in mid-January, Luis Enrique announced: “This week he will train with the group and it’s very good news because he is a very important player for us … He is coming from a muscle injury, we will run no risk, he has to come back to playing little by little only. He will need two or three weeks to be a hundred percent and then he can help us once again.”