Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Eto'o returns

Barcelona rounded off the Champions League group stage with a comfortable 3 -1 win over German team Stuttgart in Camp Nou, as Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o scored his first goal of the season.

Barça's coach Frank Rijkaard was watching from the stands as he was suspended and he will not have been happy with the start his team made as Antonio da Silva netted after just three minutes for the visitors.

And just as they had to against Deportivo at the weekend, Barça had to battle back and they did so as mexican Giovani Dos Santos levelled in the first half, before Eto'o and Ronaldinho scored after the break.

It's important to mention that Xavi was set to be rested, but after Deco was unfit to play the Barça midfielder was named in the starting line-up alongside Eidur Gudjohnsen with Andrés Iniesta on the bench.

Rookie star Bojan Krkic was also expected to start, but Ronaldinho was given more time to rediscover his level up front with Giovani and Eto'o, while Albert Jorquera replaced Víctor Valdés in goal.

Despite those changes, Barcelona will not have been expecting to start like they did as they were hit with a sucker punch before having time to settle.

Gaby Milito tripped Ewerthon on the edge of the are in the third minute and Da Silva lifted a superb free-kick over the wall the clipped the underside of the crossbar and flew into the net.

Moments later Samuel Eto'o had the chance to draw Barça level when he received a weak pass in front of goal, but his first touch allowed the keeper time to approach and block his shot.

What's more, Ronaldinho Gaucho and Rafael Márquez then went close before Gudjohnsen first supplied Xavi, whose shot was kept out by Raphael Schäfer and the Icelandic international then clipped the rebound to Giovani, whose drive was tipped wide for a corner.

And with nine minutes remaining the pressure from Barça finally told as Ronaldinho won possession off Boka in the left corner and his cross was met by Giovani in front of goal.

The Mexican revelation wheeled away to celebrate and while replays were inconclusive, Schäfer was adamant that the ball had clipped the scorer's arm.

After 12 minutes of the second part, Barcelona took the lead for the first time when Xavi set off from the halfway line before feeding Eto'o and the Cameroonian took one touch before rifling his shot into the far corner of the net.

The frontman's delight was obvious and he raced to the bench to hug the coach that had helped him throughout his recuperation from his long-term knee injury.

Veteran Yildiray Bastürk then created space for himself, but his shot did not match the run as the ball flew wide and with Barcelona's next meaningful attack they wrapped up the points.

Iniesta had been on five minutes when he laid the ball down the left for Sylvinho and the Brazilian slid a low cross into the area where Ronaldinho Gaucho met it on the run and steered in number three from six yards out.

And shortly before Ewerthon had seen his fizzing shot from 25 yards cannon back off Jorquera's crossbar.

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