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Pre-Season Friendly: Lechia Gdansk 2 Barcelona 2

Neymar made his first Barcelona appearance as his new side drew 2-2 with Lechia Gdansk in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday.

The Brazilian forward – who joined Barcelona from Santos for €57 million in May – was introduced with 11 minutes remaining in the clash at the PGE Arena in Poland, in place of Alexis Sanchez.

And his brief cameo was promising in an excellent game of football that provided Barcelona with a stern test as the La Liga champions came from behind twice through Sergi Roberto and Lionel Messi to cancel out goals from Jaroslaw Bieniuk and Piotr Grzelczak.

The match – which was postponed for over a week after the news of Tito Vilanova’s resignation, to fight throat cancer, became public – saw Barcelona assistant coaches Jordi Roura and Rubi again take charge.

The club’s new manager, Gerardo Martino, is yet to coach Barcelona in a match.

Roura and Rubi opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Messi flanked by Sanchez and Cristian Tello going forward, while youngsters Sergi and Jonathan Dos Santos continued their pre-season involvement in midfield.

Barca should have scored after just eight minutes but Sanchez turned the ball over the bar from close range.

And Lechia took the lead in the 16th minute, against the run of play, thanks to a bullet header from captain Bieniuk, who rose highest to power home Pawel Dawidowicz’s corner.

Their lead lasted just nine minutes, though, as a terrific Barcelona move saw Martin Montoya get to the byline and cut back for Sergi, who was on hand to tap in.

Dos Santos sent an effort just wide while on the stroke of half-time and Lechia goalkeeper Mateusz Bak made an excellent save to deny a curling Messi strike.

Lechia re-claimed the lead in the 50th minute as Montoya was punished for his failure to clear a long ball.

Grzelczak nipped in and behind him and ran to the byline, and although the opportunity looked lost, he fired a shot above Barcelona goalkeeper Oier Olazabal and in to the roof of the net from an acute angle.

It was an excellent finish and Lechia should have taken a 3-1 lead moments later, only for Patryk Tuszynski to miss from five yards.

Barcelona quickly made their opponents pay as another excellent display of passing football saw them score, with Messi the beneficiary on this occasion.

The Argentinian opened his body up after receiving a neat ball from Sanchez and he curled his left-foot effort into the back of the net.

Barcelona made a string of changes midway through the second half and the flow of the game was disrupted as a result.

Neymar produced excitement every time he touched the ball but there was to be no late drama as both sides settled for a draw.

Barca’s next pre-season outing will be against Santos at Camp Nou on Friday.

Tue 30 July, 2013
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