Barca thrash Santos 4-0 to win Club World Cup
YOKOHAMA: Lionel Messi scored two wonder goals as European champions Barcelona thrashed Brazil’s Santos 4-0 to win their second Club World Cup in swashbuckling style on Sunday.
Argentine wizard Messi put Barcelona ahead in the 17th minute, exquisitely clipping a left-foot shot over goalkeeper Rafael Cabral after a clever ball from Xavi.
Only seven minutes later it was 2-0 when Xavi himself latched on to a pinpoint pass from Dani Alves, beating one defender before smashing the ball home.
Cesc Fabregas hit the post and then stabbed home Barca’s third on the stroke of halftime as the Spanish giants, winners in 2009, threatened to run riot in front of a crowd of 68,000 in Yokohama.
The former Arsenal midfielder came within a whisker of another goal moments after the restart, forcing a magnificent save from Cabral.
Player of the tournament Messi made it 4-0 eight minutes from time, bursting past Cabral at breath-taking speed to slip the ball into the net and complete the rout.
Santos, who lifted their third Libertadores Cup in June almost 50 years after Pele led them to back-to-back titles in 1962 and 1963, had no answer to Barcelona’s brilliance.
“It may have looked easy but it certainly wasn’t,” said Barca captain Carles Puyol after his side became the first to win the Club World Cup twice sine it became a seven-team FIFA competition.
“The early goals made it easier for us,” added Puyol, who dedicated victory to Spain striker David Villa after he broke his leg in Barca’s 4-0 semi-final win over Qatar’s Al Sadd.
“We never doubted ourselves and kept their forwards under control. It was a complete performance.”
The quality and speed of Barca’s play was bewildering at times.
“It’s impossible to stop Barcelona,” shrugged Brazil’s teenage sensation Neymar. “They are the best team in the world with fantastic players.
“But we are the second-best team in the world and for us that is a great reward.”
Asian champions Al Sadd held their nerve to take third place at the Club World Cup on Sunday as they won their play-off against Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol 5-3 on penalties.
Nadir Belhadj, who also scored the decisive penalty in a shoot-out in the AFC Champions League final last month, was again the hero for the side from Qatar as he scored their fifth after the game ended 0-0 after 90 minutes.