BARCELONA - A second-string Barcelona
dashed Rubin Kazan's bid to make the Champions League last 16 on
Tuesday when B team players Andreu Fontas and Victor Vazquez
fired the La Liga giants to a 2-0 home win.
The Russians were hoping for a repeat of last season's 2-1
victory at the Nou Camp but came up short against a team that
had already made sure of the top spot in Group D and contained
only two of their regular starting 11.
Rubin will have to make do with a place in the Europa League
after finishing third in the group.
FC Copenhagen beat Panathinaikos 3-1 in the Danish capital
to finish second and secure a place in December 17's draw for the
Fans hoping for a show from Barca's three Ballon d'Or
nominees, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, were initially
disappointed, with Messi and Iniesta left on the bench and Xavi
watching from the stands.
Coach Pep Guardiola had also rested striker David Villa,
forward Pedro, captain Carles Puyol and first-choice goalkeeper
Victor Valdes but the youngsters promoted in their place still
had far too much quality for a toothless Rubin.
The visitors mustered only five attempts on goal to Barca's
17, while the Catalans enjoyed 75 percent of possession and
showed they have plenty of in-house talent pushing for a regular
place in the first team.
Defender Fontas struck in the 51st minute when his left-foot
shot was deflected into the net off Vitaly Kaleshin and forward
Vazquez, who had replaced the injured Jeffren in the 13th
minute, added a second with a fine curled effort in the 83rd.
"It's impossible to be happier, scoring in the Champions
League is the best," Fontas, who was making his first start in
Europe's elite club competition, said in a television interview.
"Before the match I was a bit nervous but once I got out
there everything changed," the 21-year-old added.
"Playing in this team makes everything easier and now I just
need to keep working."
Messi's introduction with just under half an hour to go
lifted the crowd and the reigning World Player of the Year
managed some trademark weaving runs, although he failed to add
to his six goals in the campaign.
The Argentina forward this week joined Iniesta and Xavi on
the shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, to be announced later this
month, the first time since AC Milan in 1989 that the same club
provided all three finalists for the award.
Guardiola congratulated the B team players and singled out
Vazquez, 23, who came through the club's youth academy at the
same time as Messi, Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and Spain
defender Gerard Pique, for special praise.
"He hasn't made it yet due to injuries, not because he lacks
quality," Guardiola, himself a product of the Barca youth
system, said at a news conference.
"He knows that he has to put in a good year in the second
division to see what we will we do with him."
Barca's victory was slightly soured by the injury to
Jeffren, who damaged a leg muscle, and a knock on the head to
Bojan Krkic, who also had to be replaced in the first half.
The La Liga champions finished the group phase with 14
points from six matches, with Copenhagen on 10, Rubin on six and
Panathinaikos on two.
Spurs miss out on Champions League again despite highest Premier League points tally
Champions closer to matching Real Madrid's La Liga record of 100 points with 2-1 win
AC Milan score twice in last six minutes to beat relegated Siena 2-1 to finish third
Carlo Ancelotti informs PSG officials that he wants to leave at the end of the season
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010