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mercoledì 3 ottobre 2012

Barcelona beats Benfica in Champions League, Puyol terrible injury

Lionel Messi set up goals for Alexis Sánchez and Cesc Fábregas in Barcelona's 2-0 Champions League Group G victory over Benfica on Tuesday but their victory was overshadowed by a serious-looking arm injury sustained by their captain, Carles Puyol.

However, the Catalans' night was soured towards the end when captain Carles Puyol carried off on a stretcher with what appeared to be a broken arm after he landed awkwardly when attacking a corner, before Sergio Busquets was shown a straight red card two minutes from time.

Puyol had just returned from a hamstring injury in the only change from the side that beat Sevilla 3-2 at the weekend and in contrast to that match Barcelona got off to the perfect start in Lisbon as Messi's fantastic driven cross was just out of the reach of Artur and Sanchez slid in to notch his first goal of the season.

Barca were the better side in the first half, dominating play as they usually do, but also looking vulnerable at moments. Benfica had a couple great chances, forcing two good saves from Victor Valdés, but it was the usual suspects who put Barcelona ahead at halftime.

"There is only one ball and when they have the ball for three quarters of the match it is very hard," said Benfica playmaker Pablo Aimar, who Messi has said was his childhood idol.

Barca doubled their lead after the break when Messi cut in from the right and with a trademark dash left several defenders trailing. He then slid a perfect ball through to Fabregas who coolly slotted in.

"They are, in my opinion, the best in the world, always get more than 70 percent of possession and boss around every opponent," said Benfica coach Jorge Jesus.

Things got ugly and physical late and nearly boiled over when Sergio Busquets was shown a straight red card in the final minutes. It was a terrible call by the referee who claimed he'd gone in with his elbow, but replays showed there was virtually no contact.

The match was fairly uneventful for the next 50 minutes or so. Barcelona dominated possession, but Benfica did muster a few good looks. In fact, they were getting off more shots on goal than Barcelona. 

But Barca kept plugging away, and when Cesc Fábregas broke away to take a Messi pass and netted a goal in the 55th minute, this match was all but over. 

Messi was up to his usual brilliant tricks. While he didn't add a goal in this one, he played a nearly flawless match, and his assist on the first goal set the tone for this match in the very early going.

BENFICA (4-4-2): Artur, Pereira, Jardel, Garay, Melgarejo; Matic, Salvio, Perez (dal 60′ Aimar), Cesar (dal 46′ Martins); Lima, Gaitàn (dal 75′ Nolito). All.: Jesus

BARCELONA (4-3-3): Valdes, Alves, Puyol (dal 77′ Song), Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas (dal 72′ Iniesta); Pedro (dall’81′ Villa), Messi, Sanchez. All.: Vilanova

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