Barcelona brought the prospect of four Clasicos in three weeks closer last night when they took a 5-1 first-leg lead over Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie. With Real Madrid all but in the last four, the competition favourites gave themselves a great chance of joining them.
Jose Mourinho's side meet Barça in La Liga and Spanish Cup final in the space of five days and now a double-header looms. The Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, had said this was the draw he did not want but his side had the ball scored after just one minute when Lionel Messi slipped a pass through to Andres Iniesta, who beat Andriy Pyatov at his near post.
Shakhtar showed they were not overawed and Willian's shot had to be palmed away by Victor Valdes. The Barcelona keeper then had to come charging out as Luis Adriano looked to be through. But Barcelona found the goals that mean they are favourites in the Ukraine next week.
On 34 minutes Dani Alves angled his run perfectly to run on to Xavi's pass, took one touch to round the advancing Pyatov and a second to send the ball in. After the break Gerard Pique scored from an Alves corner as Barça looked to kill off the tie.
Shakhtar scored through Yaroslav Rakitskiy but they were punished immediately when Seydou Keita went straight up the other end and rifled in the fourth. Xavi swept in Alves cross to make it five near the end.
Guardiola said: "They had three one-on-one chances so we can not take anything for granted in the second leg." But the Shakhtar coach, Mircea Lucescu, said: "I don't think that any team this year will be capable of beating Barcelona."
Barcelona (4-3-3) Valdes; Alves, Pique, Busquets, Adriano (Maxwell, 77); Xavi, Mascherano, Keita; Iniesta (Affellay, 90), Messi, Villa (Pedrito, 70). Substitutes not used Peralta, Milito, Thiago, Bojan.
Shakhtar Donetsk (4-2-3-1) Pyatov; Srna, Ishchenko, Rakitskiy, Rat; Hubschamn (Eduardo, 83) Mkhitaryan; Douglas Costa, Jadson (Fernandinho, 70), Willian (Teixeira, 75); L Adriano. Substitutes not used Khudzamov, Kobin, Stepanenko, Chyzhov.
Referee C Thomson (Scotland).