Suarez, Roberto lift Barcelona to 2-1 win over Galaxy

Luis Suarez and Sergi Roberto scored as European Champions Barcelona launched their pre-season North American tour with a convincing 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Uruguay international Suarez came out on top in a clash with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard — the Galaxy’s latest acquisition from Europe.

His 45th-minute strike and Roberto’s 56th-minute goal ensured that even without such stars as Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazilian Neymar — let off the pre-season tour after Copa America duty — Barcelona got the win their dominant performance deserved in front of 93,226 fans at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.

In their first pre-season friendly in prepration for their defence of their La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Champions League treble, Barcelona pressed relentlessly from the start and were finally rewarded in the 45th minute when Suarez fired a left-footed shot past Galaxy keeper Brian Rowe after Rafinha’s deflected cross was moved on by Bartra and Galaxy defender Leonardo was unable to clear the danger.

Suarez had been off-target from the center of the area in the 11th and from long range in the 23rd, while Rowe made a diving save of Roberto’s attempt from outside the box in the 35th.

Both teams made wholesale changes at the break, with Suarez among the seven Barcelona players to depart and Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique entering the game.

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena made five halftime substitutions, with Gerrard and Keane among those departing.

The changes didn’t slow Barca, with Douglas going close in the 47th minute and Pique testing substitute Galaxy keeper Andrew Wolverton in the 53rd after a pass from Munir.

Munir also helped set up Roberto’s 56th-minute strike from the edge of the box — which brought joyous cheers of “Barca! Barca!” from the crowd.

The minority of Galaxy fans in the stands, on a balmy night in the foothills northeast of Los Angeles, had little to cheer for much of the match, although Tommy Meyer grabbed a consolation goal in the first minute of injury time, heading in from close range.

The Galaxy now head back into MLS action, visiting the Dynamo in Houston on Sunday as they continue their bid to defend their title.

Barcelona next travel up the coast to take on Manchester United on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium, home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.

They complete their US swing against English champions Chelsea on July 28 in suburban Washington DC before playing Fiorentina in Florence on August 2.

Photo Credits : AFP

Suarez stunner hands Barca victory over Madrid

Barcelona moved four points clear at the top of La Liga as Luis Suarez’s brilliant individual effort handed them a 2-1 win over Real Madrid on Sunday.

Jeremy Mathieu headed Barca in front early on from Lionel Messi’s free-kick, but Cristiano Ronaldo hit back at his critics in recent weeks with a deserved equaliser before the break.

Suarez was to have the final say, though, as he registered his first goal in El Clasico by controlling Dani Alves’s long ball before turning to strike into the far corner.

A third defeat in four games for Madrid will see coach Carlo Ancelotti come under increasing pressure to hold onto his job, but it was Madrid who posed the greater danger early on.

Karim Benzema pulled a shot wide of the far post before his teasing cross was volleyed onto the bar at the back post by Ronaldo.

However, it was Barca who went in front on 18 minutes when Mathieu headed home Messi’s in-swinging free-kick from the left for his first league goal for the club.

Neymar should have doubled the hosts’ advantage on the half hour when he fired straight at Iker Casillas with the goal gaping after a mishit Suarez shot rolled across goal.

Seconds later Real were level thanks to a lovely move as Benzema backheeled Luka Modric’s pass into Ronaldo’s path and he poked the ball past Claudio Bravo on the stretch.

The visitors then went on to end the half the stronger as Gareth Bale had a goal ruled out for offside, whilst Bravo tipped a piledriver from Ronaldo over and Bale stabbed inches wide from the resulting corner.

Madrid also had the first opportunity of the second-half as lovely link-up play between Benzema and Ronaldo this time put the Frenchman through on goal, but Bravo did just enough to parry his shot to safety.

And they were again caught by a sucker punch when Alves’s ball over the top was brilliantly controlled and finished by Suarez on the turn.

Ronaldo, who had been booked in the first-half for diving, was then fortunate not to see red when he appeared to kick out after being fouled by Javier Mascherano.

The cautions continued to mount as 11 players were booked in all.

Neymar nearly made amends for his miss in the first period with an incredible run from inside hs own half past numerous Madrid players, but again his finishing was wayward as he blasted over.

Messi had been very quiet given his stunning performances of late, but he was inches away from sealing the points 17 minutes from time as his shot curled just wide.

Neymar then blazed wide again from a Messi pass as space began to open up for Barca.

Those wasted opportunities nearly came back to haunt the Catalans as Bravo had to produce a brilliant save to turn Benzema’s deflected effort behind for a corner.

Casillas kept Madrid in the game at the other end with a pair of fine saves to deny Jordi Alba and Messi, but it was to no avail as Barca racked up their 18th win in 19 games.

Photo Credits : AFP

Barca into Cup final thanks to Neymar double

Barcelona eased into their fourth Copa del Rey final in five years as they completed a 6-2 aggregate win over Villarreal with a 3-1 win at El Madrigal on Wednesday.

Neymar had missed a penalty in Barca’s 3-1 first leg win three weeks ago, but made amends after just three minutes when he turned home Lionel Messi’s cross.

Jonathan dos Santos gave the hosts hope with an equaliser on the night against his old club, but Villarreal’s chances of a famous comeback faded when Tomas Pina was shown a straight red card for a heavy challenge on Neymar.

Luis Suarez slotted home his 11th goal of the season to make it 2-1 before Neymar rounded off the scoring from Xavi’s cross late on.

However, victory also came at a cost for Barca as Sergio Busquets was stretchered off in the first-half with a high ankle sprain that could keep him sidelined for a significant couple of weeks with the Catalans set to face Real Madrid in La Liga on March 22.

Barca boss Luis Enrique started Javier Mascherano and Suarez despite both being one yellow card away from missing the final and that decision was vindicated inside three minutes as both were involved in the move that let to Neymar’s opener.

The ball eventually found its way to Messi and his tantalising in-swinging cross was looped over Sergio Asenjo by the Brazilian captain.

Villarreal refused to be beaten despite that early setback as Ikechukwu Uche fired into the side-netting, whilst Marc-Andre Ter Stegen denied Luciano Vietto and Denis Cheryshev.

Marcelino’s men finally got their reward when Dos Santos slotted home Jaume Costa’s cross at the back post six minutes before the break.

And Barca suffered a further blow as Busquets had to be stretchered off after Pina stood on his right ankle in the build-up to the goal.

Villarreal’s momentum was lost 20 minutes into the second period, though, when this time Pina was punished for a dangerous challenge on Neymar from behind.

Suarez and Neymar then passed up good chances to make the tie safe with the latter being denied by a fine save from Asenjo.

However, there was nothing the ‘keeper could do to prevent Suarez scoring for the third consecutive game as he latched onto Mascherano’s ball over the top and kept his composure to round Asenjo before rolling the ball into the unguarded net.

And Neymar notched his second of the night with an easy header from another sumptuous cross, this time from Xavi.

Barca will face either Espanyol or Athletic Bilbao, who play later on Wednesday, in the final with the two sides locked at 1-1 after the first leg.

Photo Credits : AFP

Luis Suarez happy with Saturday’s ‘bittersweet’ Barcelona debut

Luis Suarez says it was a “big relief” to make his Barcelona debut in their 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid after sitting out a four-month ban for biting.

The 27-year-old, who signed from Liverpool in July for £75m, set up his new side’s goal before being substituted on 69 minutes.

“It was a big relief. I’m very happy with the minutes I had,” he said.

“I have a bittersweet sensation because of the result but this team has picked itself up before many times.”

Barcelona won their opening eight league games while Suarez served his suspension for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, but their defeat in El Clasico leaves them just one point ahead of Real at the top of the table.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/29775429

Luis Suarez back in business

Luis Suarez returned for Uruguay for the first time since his infamous World Cup biting shame and helped the South Americans to a 1-1 friendly draw against Saudi Arabia.

The 27-year-old Barcelona star’s shot from an angle on 47 minutes in Jeddah came back off the far post before hitting Hassan Muath Fallatah for an own goal.

Suarez was replaced with 20 minutes to go but his hopes of a winning international return were ruined by Naif Hazazi’s last-minute equaliser for the former Asian champions.

Although still serving a nine-match competitive international ban for sinking his teeth into Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, Suarez is allowed to play in friendlies.

Suarez, whose club ban ends in two weeks when Barcelona face bitter rivals Real Madrid, could have scored just before coming off when he pounced on a dreadful back pass.

Read more: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/returning-suarez-helps-uruguay-saudi-draw-201244236–sow.html;_ylt=A0LEVyPyJjpUmLgA7MJXNyoA