Barcelona 4 Valladolid 1: Bojan's class inspires Barcelona as Ronaldinho injury mystery deepens
Monday 24 March 2008
Never mind the fantastic four, the striker keeping Barcelona in the Spanish title race and Frank Rijkaard in a job is 17-year-old Bojan Krkic. With Leo Messi injured, Ronaldinho apparently pretending to be injured, and Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o yet to strike up an understanding, it was Bojan who made two and scored two as Barcelona beat Valladolid.
Frank Rijkaard left Ronaldinho out of his squad but admitted that the Brazilian had been fit to train in the days leading up to the game. "The player says he is injured," was the verdict from the Barcelona coach.
Ronaldinho had missed the previous week's match in Almeria complaining of a thigh strain, but the club's medical team said they could find nothing wrong with him when tests were carried out after the game. Without Ronaldinho, Bojan carried the fight to Valladolid. He had a shot cleared off the line by Pedro Lopez and another effort blocked after being set-up by Xavi.
Thierry Henry, returning to the team after starting the previous two games on the bench, then failed to get his head on to a Sylvinho cross and Andres Iniesta's shot was blocked by Sergio Asenjo in the visitors' goal as Valladolid continued to frustrate Barcelona. When the goal came, predictably Bojan was involved. He crossed from the left for Samuel Eto'o to volley home.
Barcelona pressed for the second and midfielder Yaya Touré, who had already had a shot saved point-blank by Asenjo, then set up Iniesta whose effort was blocked. The home side dominated possession but could not add to their advantage and they were pegged back on the half-hour mark with a little help from the referee, Jose Luis Paradas. He was the only man in the stadium who saw an infringement as Lilian Thuram tangled with Llorente in the box.
The Valladolid striker went to ground, the referee pointed to the spot, and Jonathan Sesma sent Victor Valdes the wrong way to equalise.
Barcelona were whistled off at half time by a disgruntled and sparsely populated Nou Camp but the team responded in the second half. Bojan flicked on a Touré pass and Iniesta rounded the keeper to put them back in front just 60 seconds into the second period. On 65 minutes Barcelona were 3-1 ahead and it was man-of-the-match Bojan who scored it.
There looked to be a queue of Barcelona players in an offside position as Xavi's set-piece flashed across the Valladolid box, but the flag stayed down and Bojan steered the ball past Paradas. Barcelona could have scored a fourth but Eto'o somehow managed to spoon Xavi's cross-shot over the bar.
Barcelona still looked vulnerable at the back and twice Valladolid hit the woodwork before the home side killed the game with the fourth. Eto'o crossed from the right and Bojan got his second, from close range, before being taken off to rapturous applause from home fans.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Zambrotta, Thuram (Abidal 70), Puyol, Sylvinho; Iniesta, Toure (Gudjohnsen 60), Xavi; Eto'o, Bojan (Pedrito 85), Henry.
Valladolid (4-2-3-1): Asenjo; Lopez, Baraja Rafa, Marcos; Camacho (Camacho 73), Rubio; Sesma, Dorado, Kome (Sisi 64); Llorente (Manchev 56).
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