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Udinese 0-2 Barcelona: Late burst

shiverez2010-05-08 19:55:54 +0000 #1
Udinese 0-2 Barcelona: Late burst

UDINE, Italy, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Two goals in the last five minutes gave already-qualified Barcelona a 2-0 win over Udinese to eliminate the Italians from the Champions League on Wednesday.

With five minutes left in the Group C match, a goalless draw would have sent Udinese into the last 16. Instead Werder Bremen, who beat Panathinaikos 5-1, finished second leaving the Italian side with the consolation of a UEFA Cup spot.

Santi Ezquerro put the Spanish side in front in the 85th minute and then set up substitute Andres Iniesta for the second in the final minute.

Although Barcelona had little to play for and were without several top players they created the best chances -- Ludovic Giuly hitting the bar and the post during a lively first half.

Udinese had been cautious from the outset and were clearly playing for a draw in the second half -- a tactic which looked to have paid dividends until defensive lapses allowed Ezquerro to sink their hopes.

Barcelona, already assured of top spot and with assistant coach Henk Ten Cate in charge rather than the ill Frank Rijkaard, made seven changes from the side which beat Villareal in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Albert Jorquera made his European debut in goal, while first choice attackers, European Footballer of the Year, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o were among the regulars rested with Swede Henrik Larsson leading the line.

Udinese, knew a draw would be enough to secure qualification in their first ever Champions League campaign and the occasion produced a rare full house at the Stadio Friuli -- a 40,000 venue in a town of 100,000.

The home side started brightly with Vincenzo Iaquinta, who passed a late fitness test, providing an early chance for strike partner Antonio Di Natale but he volleyed wide from a promising position.

Udinese keeper Morgan De Sanctis did well to keep out a close range effort from Ezquerro in the 19th minute after a smart flick from Larsson as Barcelona caused problems for an Udinese defence without their injured Brazilian Felipe.

Deco was just wide in the 37th minute and then Udinese were forced into a change with right wing back Damiano Zenoni replaced by Fernando Tissone.

The dangerous Giuly squeezed a shot from a tight angle against the outside of the post with De Sanctis oddly having appeared to let the ball go out -- another let off for the Italians who were living dangerously at the back and failing to give enough support to Iaquinta in attack.

A goalless draw suited Udinese though and their priority, after the break, remained protecting their defence rather than pushing men forward.

Barca went close again on the hour when Gabri delivered a superb defence splitting pass into the path of the overlapping Juliano Belletti but the full back fired his low shot into the side netting.

The game drifted towards a goalless draw with chances rare -- Udinese sub David Di Michele failing to make the most of a rare opportunity when he over-elaborated a one-on-one with keeper Jorquera.

Then, moments after a premature celebratory 'Mexican wave' had gone around the stadium, Udinese failed to clear a cross and Ezquerro fired home through a crowded area.

The Italians threw men forward in desperation and were caught on the break with Ezquerro racing down the left and slipping the ball into the path of Iniesta who converted with ease and ended any dream of the last 16 for Serse Cosmi's side.


shiverez2010-05-08 20:09:04 +0000 #2
I hope Rijkaard gets better soon... Ten Cate is doing a good job and its nice to have a capable assistant manager able to take care of the team and tactics.

But still...

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