Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez made their first Barcelona appearances of pre-season as the Catalans started their International Champions Cup campaign with a 3-1 victory over Celtic in Dublin.
Argentina superstar Messi, playing for the first time since missing a penalty in Argentina’s Copa America final shootout defeat to Chile, managed 45 minutes while Suarez – top scorer in LaLiga last term – lasted until the hour mark.
Barca were already 3-1 up at half-time. Arda Turan’s excellent strike and a comical own goal from Efe Ambrose, either side of Leigh Griffiths taking advantage of some woeful defending, put Barca 2-1 ahead before Munir El Haddadi was also on the scoresheet before half-time.
All in all it was a good workout by the LaLiga champions, who took their foot off the gas somewhat after the break, and they next meet Premier League holders Leicester City on Wednesday.
Luis Enrique fielded an experimental back-line and a misunderstanding between centre-back pairing Jose Martinez and Jeremy Mathieu almost handed Celtic the lead within 15 seconds, with Patrick Roberts aiming just wide after picking up a loose ball.
It was Barca that struck first in the 11th minute, though. Aleix Vidal brilliantly jinked his way down the Celtic right and cut back for Turan, whose well-struck effort from the edge of the box found the top right-hand corner.
However, a horror mistake from Martinez gifted Griffiths the equaliser as the defender’s heavy first touch after Masip’s pass left the Celtic striker with an open goal to make it 1-1.
Barca were quickly back in front after another defensive howler as Ambrose inexplicably diverted Juan Camara’s harmless cross from the left past Craig Gordon.
Celtic looked dangerous early in the second half when Nadir Ciftci volleyed just over the crossbar after Moussa Dembele’s clever touch set him up, while Tom Rogic fired narrowly wide from 20 yards out.
Denis Suarez – who made his first appearance since his return to Barcelona from Villarreal – was unfortunate not to add a fourth, with substitute goalkeeper Leonardo Fasan making a fine save to deny the midfielder.
Seemingly content with their run out, Barca eased off in the closing stages and the match ended 3-1.
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