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BARCELONA FLYING STYLY NEW SEASON

BARCELONA FLYING STYLY NEW SEASON

Barcelona got the better of Real Madrid by a final score of 3-2 in the team’s International Champions Cup match in Miami on Saturday night.

The hype leading up to the match was matched by the drama in its opening seconds, as Neymar suffered an early injury and was forced off before returning minutes later.

Shortly after the knock to Neymar, Lionel Messi opened the scoring for Barcelona, evading Luka Modric with a deft touch and then seeing his shot take a fortuitous deflection off Raphael Varane.

Neymar made an immediate impact upon his return, dribbling down the left flank and playing the ball across the top of the penalty area where Ivan Rakitic smashed home from 18 yards to make it 2-0 inside of eight minutes.

Madrid looked shaky in the opening 10 minutes, but they quickly cut the deficit in half when Mateo Kovacic beat Gerard Pique in the 13th minute and neatly finished from 18 yards away past Jasper Cillessen.

Karim Benzema nearly had Real back on level terms, using Marco Asensio as a decoy on the counter-attack before blazing his left-footed shot just wide of the post.

Barca needed just four passes to go from their end to the Madrid penalty area in the 28th minute, with Luis Suarez setting Neymar up only for the 25-year-old’s shot to roll just wide of the far post after some slick footwork.

Ivan Rakitic celebrates after scoring Barcelona’s second goal against Real Madrid. no_source

And Asensio would level in the 36th minute on the counter-attack, getting a return pass from Kovacic after a long run and firing past Cillessen after beating Jordi Alba in the penalty area and send the teams to the dressing room at 2-2.

Gerard Pique wasted no time putting Barcelona back in front in the second half, getting on the end of an inswinging Neymar free kick and volleying home over Keylor Navas after some woeful defending by Madrid.

Navas would come up big minutes later though, doing just enough to force a Neymar miss after he’d broken free in the Real Madrid penalty area.

At the other end, Cillessen answered his opposite number with a fine save from an Isco strike that looked certain to even the score between the La Liga rivals.

Wholesale changes came after the hour mark, with Messi coming off for Barcelona and the match settling into the type of pace more usual in a friendly.

However, just past the 80-minute mark, it was Cillessen denying Isco again after the attacker cut in from the left and curled a shot toward the back post that would have gone in had it not been for the fingertip save of the Barca keeper.

Barcelona concluded their U.S. tour with the ICC North American trophy for 2017, while Real Madrid will go on to play Major League Soccer’s All Stars in Chicago on Wednesday.

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