A dubious goal from Luis Suarez helped Barcelona begin their 2015-16 season with a victory in the International Champions Cup on Tuesday.
Suarez struck on the stroke of half-time against LA Galaxy, although he appeared to use his hand to control the ball in the build-up, while Sergi Roberto wrapped up Barcelona’s 2-1 victory with a goal 10 minutes after the break.
In Barcelona’s first match since their 3-1 triumph over Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final, Luis Enrique named a strong starting line-up at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Galaxy’s two goalkeepers – Brad Rowe in the first half and Andrew Wolverton in the second – were busy men, although the home side fought back in the latter period with Ariel Lassiter wasting two big opportunities to score his debut senior goal for LA.
Tommy Meyer eventually got on the scoresheet for the hosts in stoppage time, heading home Mika Vayrynen’s corner.
Only three players – Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic – that began the Champions League final were also included in Luis Enrique’s starting XI at the Rose Bowl.
But the 45-year-old coach still wheeled out a chunk of his senior squad, with Pedro, Jeremy Mathieu, Adriano, Douglas Pereira, Marc Bartra, Rafinha and Roberto also included, while Barcelona B goalkeeper Jordi Masip took the gloves.
As Barcelona started strongly, Galaxy suffered an early blow when Baggio Husidic limped off midway through the first half, with Rowe forced into a fine save soon after from Roberto.
Eventually, however, it was Suarez, who scored Barcelona’s first goal of the 2015-16 campaign, although his penchant for controversy again came to the fore.
While it may have taken the Uruguay international three months to open his Barcelona account in his maiden season with the club – with his suspension for biting at the 2014 World Cup playing a significant role – Suarez showed no such rustiness in California.
As the ball looped into the box in the 45th minute, Suarez pounced, seemingly disrupting a clearance of Galaxy defender Leonardo with his arm before volleying past Rowe.
Roberto doubled the visitors’ advantage in the 56th minute, thrashing a loose ball into the net from near the penalty spot, while Wolverton parried Rafinha’s effort just after the hour-mark.
Lassiter then failed to convert from a tight angle, shooting across goal when released by Bradford Jamieson IV.
With the likes of Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard sitting out the second half, Galaxy’s young players seemed to relish the chance to play Barca, with Lassiter bursting onto Raul Mendiola’s through ball in the 74th minute only to miss a one-on-one opportunity.
Barca substitute Sandro Ramirez then hit the bar before Meyer gave LA’s fans something to cheer about with a powerful header at the near post.
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