Barcelona beat Al-Ahli in eight-goal friendly

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Goals from Luiz Suarez, Lionel Messi and Ney­mar helped Barcelona beat Saudi cham­pi­ons Al-Ahli 5-3 in a thrilling friendly in Doha yes­ter­day.

The su­per­star trio all scored by the 17th minute, help­ing the Span­ish giants to stroll into an early three-goal lead. And per­haps more im­por­tantly for Barcelona, it also en­sured all three could be sub­sti­tuted by the 32nd minute to al­lay any in­jury fears ahead of the Cata­lan derby against Es­panyol on Sun­day.

Suarez opened the scor­ing with a glanc­ing header in the eight minute from a Messi cross, be­fore the Ar­gen­tine quickly added a sec­ond just two min­utes later.

Ney­mar, who had been strug­gling with a mus­cle strain since the Cla­sico against Real Madrid ear­lier this month, net­ted a fine third with a curl­ing shot in the 17th minute.

Fur­ther goals from Paco Al­cacer and Rafinha meant the La Liga cham­pi­ons were able to with­stand a sec­ond-half come­back from the Saudi side.

Among the scor­ers for Al-Alhi was Omar Ab­dul­rah­man, AFC player of the year for 2016, who plays his foot­ball in the UAE but was al­lowed to turn out for the Saudis for the friendly.

He scored with a “Pa­nenka” penalty in the 51st minute af­ter Barcelona goal­keeper Jordi Masip gave away the spot-kick.

The keeper may have been the only Barca player who did not en­joy the run-out in Qatar as he was also eas­ily beaten at the near post for Al-Ahli’s sec­ond, scored by Muhan­nad As­siri.

The game was be­ing played as part of Barcelona’s spon­sor­ship deal with Qatar Air­ways, which ends next June. Al-Ahli are also spon­sored by the Gulf car­rier. The game was billed as the “Match of Cham­pi­ons” and Barcelona were pre­sented with an 18 carat gold cup af­ter­wards, spe­cially com­mis­sioned for the game.

Among those watch­ing on in the 18,126 sell-out crowd was Barcelona great Xavi Her­nan­dez, who now plays for Qatar’s Al Sadd. — AFP

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