Barcelona moves on from Neymar to honour Chapecoense
Barcelona, Spain - Barcelona eased into life without Neymar by honouring Chapecoense, the Brazilian side still reeling from a devastating plane crash that killed 19 players and 24 club officials last year, in a 5-0 friendly win on Monday.
On an emotional night for the visitors, Chapecoense was captained by Alan Ruschel, one of only three players to survive the crash, on his return to action.
Ruschel was joined by the two other survivors Nieto and Jakson Follmann from the squad which was on its way to face Atletico Nacional in the final of the Copa Sudamericana when the aircraft crashed into the Colombian mountains on November 28 last year, killing 71 people. Nieto and Follmann, who had his right leg amputated after the crash, both broke down in tears as they were invited to take an honorary kick-off in front of a crowd of 65,000 at the Camp Nou.
"I am filled with happiness to be returning to play," Ruschel told Spanish newspaper Marca.
"I am one of the happiest people in the world because I am living something almost unthinkable. I consider myself fortunate to be in Spain, facing Barcelona, playing in a stadium where I never thought I would be."
Ruschel also got a souvenir to savour as he swapped shirts with five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi after full-time.
On a sporting level the Catalan giants have had a turbulent week with star Brazilian forward Neymar joining Paris Saint-Ger- main (PSG) for a world record US$264mn transfer fee.
Barca is expected to splash some of that cash in the coming weeks with a host of players rumoured to be possible Neymar replacements, including Liverpool's Phillipe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele of Borussia Dortmund.
However, Gerard Deulofeu made his case to at least keep his place for Sunday's Spanish Super Cup first leg against Real Madrid with a goal and two assists before half-time.
The former Everton winger opened the scoring with a tap-in and his cut-back was then curled into the top corner by Sergio Busquets to make it 2-0.
Messi got his goal when he slotted home Deulofeu's low cross before Ruschel was given a standing ovation as he was substituted after 35 minutes.
Luis Suarez finally managed to get his name on the scoresheet ten minutes after the break before Denis Suarez rounded off the scoring.
Lionel Messi and Alan Ruschel hug each other