FC Barcelona have broken plenty of records in a splendid victory at the Eden Stadium in Prague, and have also ensured passage to the last sixteen of the Champions League. The 4-0 win started with Cisovsky being sent off after committing a penalty that was subsequently converted by hat-trick hero Leo Messi, with Cesc Fábregas grabbing the other. Everything worked out right in the 200th game of the Guardiola era, with Messi scoring his 200th goal for the club and also the 500th since Guardiola became manager. Not only that, but Valdés broke the club record for not conceding a goal, young Cuenca was superb and laid on one of the goals and Alexis Sánchez finally appeared on the pitch once again.
The win means Barça are mathematically through to the last sixteen of the competition, and following AC Milan’s 1-1 draw in Minsk they are well on course for topping the group.
Valdés saves record
Like against Mallorca, Guardiola played with two wingers, Adriano and Cuenca, in order to break down the tight Czech defence. With Iniesta and Xavi on the bench, Cesc, Thiago and Messi played in the middle, but struggled to find their game in the early minutes, with Viktoria Plzen playing very orderly football and almost going into the lead following a speedy Ptrzela counter attack. But Valdés produced a wonder-save that meant he was able to go on and beat Miguel Reina’s legendary record. It was a stuttering start by a Barça team that wasn’t producing its characteristic combination plays.
A brilliant run by Messi undid all the good work by the home side at one stroke. The Argentinian was brought down in the area by Cisovsky, who was sent off for a tackle on the last man. Messi took the ensuring penalty, and with an extra man, Barcelona found themselves handsomely in command for the rest of the game. All Viktoria Pilsen could produce in return was foul after foul and they found it harder and harder to get the ball out of their half. As the half drew to a close, Messi added his second of the night to make it 2-0.
Cesc and Thiago looking fine
The second half started with a delightful move involving Messi and Cesc that ended with the latter’s shot skimming just wide of the post. Barça clearly weren’t satisfied with what they had achieved in the first half. Messi then brought out the best in Pavlik with a perfectly executed free kick, and as the win didn’t look to be in any doubt, the visitors were able to rest some players (Sergio, Alves and Abidal) and send on Keita, Maxwell and also Alexis, who was declared fit just moments before kick off. A brilliant assist by Messi was almost headed home by Thiago, but there would still be more chances.
Barça really wanted a third goal to make sure of the three points and finally got it following the umpteenth run down the wing by Barça B’s Cuenca, who delivered the perfect cross into the area, which was headed goalward by Cesc Fàbregas. And with the win settled, there was still time for some more magic with as Piqué backheeled the ball for Messi to score his second hat-trick in a row and the 500th of the Guardiola era. It was the perfect end to a perfect game that ensured Barcelona go into the next round with two games in hand.