Barcelona have one foot in UEFA Champions League semi-finals after a convincing 5-1 victory against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.
In front of a packed Nou Camp crowd, first-half strikes to Andres Iniesta and Dani Alves had the Catalan giants 2-0 up at half-time in the first leg of their quarter-final.
Gerard Pique added a third after the break and despite a response from Yaroslav Rakitskiy, late goals from Seydou Keita and Xavi ensured Barca would head to Ukraine with a huge buffer.
The Ukrainian side made a bright start to the match, with a neat move involving Jadson and Douglas Costa only breaking down when Luiz Adriano slipped at the pivotal moment.
But it did not take long for Pep Guaridola’s side to respond to the early threat from the opposition, with Andres Iniesta opening the scoring inside the second minute.
Lionel Messi kick-started the move, his pass finding Iniesta, who made the most of a deflection before coolly slotting the ball past Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov with his right foot.
Shakhtar nearly hit straight back when Henrikh Mkhytarian found Luiz Adriano with a sublime ball, but the opportunity was wasted as the Brazilian could only poke the ball wide of the left hand post when presented with a one-on-one opportunity with Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
Iniesta turned from scorer to provider on the half-hour mark after his ball over the top found Dani Alves, who had got past Razvan Rat and produced a clever first touch to take the ball wide of Pyatov before he prodded the ball into the unguarded net.
The result was put beyond doubt when Pique scored his side’s third after 50 minutes, when a corner was cut back to the edge of the box and the defender produced a stylish finish, although he did have to thank Rakitskiy for a deflection.
Despite falling three goals behind, the visitors continued to press forward and grabbed a goal back when Rakitskiy beat Busquets to the ball and turned in a cross, but the goal was cancelled out just seconds later when Keita struck a 20-yard thunder-bolt after terrific build-up work from Messi.
The match petered out in the final 20 minutes, but there was still time for Barca to add another goal, with Alves producing two stepovers before centring for Xavi, who passed the ball into the back of the net for his side’s fifth goal.
It was a convincing victory and highlighted Barcelona’s brilliance, with Shakhtar facing a massive task to even make a game of the second leg, which will be played at the Donbass Arena on April 12.
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