• Barcelona begin title defence with goal blitz against hapless Levante
    09:51 | 19/08/2013

    Gerardo Martino enjoyed a comfortable competitive debut as the Barcelona coach when the La Liga champions demolished Levante 7-0 in their season opener at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

    Dani Alves celebrates after scoring Barcelona's third goal against Levante. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

    Dani Alves celebrates after scoring Barcelona’s third goal against Levante. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

    The World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi, and the Spain striker Pedro each scored twice, while the new €57m signing Neymar started on the bench and came on as a 63rd-minute substitute with the game already won.

    Barça made a whirlwind start, scoring four times in the opening 26 minutes as the team responded to Martino’s calls for greater intensity in their pressing game and a more direct approach.

    The outstanding Cesc Fábregas squared for Alexis Sánchez to tap in the opener in the third minute and Messi exchanged passes with Pedro to stroke in the second.

    Dani Alves struck the third after another slick passing move on the edge of the area, and Pedro – who started wide on the left of the attack, keeping Neymar on the bench – added the fourth.

    Adriano was brought down for a penalty in the 42nd minute, which Messi converted, and Fábregas set up Xavi with an extravagant looping pass over the defence for the sixth just before the break.

    It was a limp display from the cash-strapped visitors under their new coach, Joaquín Caparrós, who could derive comfort only from a string of saves by their goalkeeper, Keylor Navas.

    The Brazil forward Neymar was given a rousing reception when he came on for his competitive debut and showed a few neat touches but it was Pedro who scored the seventh after a mix-up in the Levante defence in the 73rd minute.

    According to Guardian

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