Two superb first half goals from Xavi and Messi gave Barça the win in Seville tonight, with an excellent performance – particularly in the first half-that’ll be a real morale boost for the team.
After an emotionally charged week, Barça gave themselves a great boost with an impressive win at the Sanchez Pijuan. In a memorable first half, the team were at their sizzling best with two magnificent goals from Xavi and Messi and whilst after the break they took their foot off the gas a little, they were never overly troubled by Seville's improved performance. The win, which leaves Barça seven points off the leader, was a fitting tribute to Abidal and the recently passed away Basora.
Barça showed who was boss right from the start with some sparkling attacking football against a Seville team who themselves clearly wanted to play an offensive game, but were soon pinned back in their own half. Barça dominated midfield, where Xavi and Cesc were in complete control – something that's always a good sign. It was Xavi who opened the scoring too, with a perfectly placed free kick which flew into Palop's top right hand corner and gave him no chance whatsoever.
Barça were creating plenty of chances and almost immediately after the Xavi goal, Iniesta saw a great chance go just wide, then, on 25 minutes Messi played a quick one-two with Iniesta on the edge of the box, nutmegged Spahic and brilliantly chipped the onrushing Palop for what is sure to be one of the goals of the season.
A misunderstanding between Piqué and Valdés nearly let in Del Moral and for a few moments Michel's team came close to shrugging off Barça's grip. The game opened up and both keepers were involved, with Palop saving after a great individual run from Pedro and again from Cesc, whilst Valdes stopped what would have been an own goal from Adriano under pressure from Kanoute before the break.
Seville lifted their game in the second half and soon produced two good crosses from the right and a penalty claim from Reyes and for the first quarter of an hour of the half, Barça were unable to impose their style on the game and even when they began to attack again, it was Del Moral who came closest to scoring on 65 minutes from a Navas cross.
Then it was Barça's turn to come close, when once again Messi and Iniesta combined brilliantly, only for the Barça number 8 to slip his shot just wide. Guardiola brought on Alexis and stiffened up the team with Keita and Puyol and the threat from Seville was under control again, as the clock ran down and Barça duly recorded their seventh straight win. (via FCBarcelona.com)
Sevilla FC Palop; Luna, Spahic (Cala, m.68), Escudé, Fernando Navarro; Jesús Navas, Medel, Rakitic (Trochowski, m.57) Manu del Moral; Reyes (Perotti, m.63) and Kanouté.
FC Barcelona: Valdés; Alves, Mascherano, Piqué, Adriano (Puyol, m.84); Xavi (Alexis, m.82), Busquets, Iniesta; Cesc Fábregas (Keita, m.69), Messi; and Pedro.
Goals: 0-1, M.18: Xavi. 0-2, M.25; Messi.
Referee: José Luis González González (Castellanoleonés Committee). Admonished the local Spahic (m.16), Escudé (m.49) and Medel (m.76) and visitors Piqué (M.31) and Adriano (m.80).
Subs: Match played at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán before some 45,000 spectators filled the stands practically. Previously observed a minute of silence for the FC Barcelona ex-footballer Estanislao Basora, who died recently. They also made the kick-off the former players of Sevilla FC Ramón Vázquez and Croatian Ivica Dragutinovic. Both teams took the field with some T-shirts in support of the French defender Eric Abidal of Barcelona, who must undergo a liver transplant.