FC Barcelona treated the Al-Gharafa Stadium in Qatar to a fine display of attacking football on Tuesday as they defeated of Saudi Arabia 5-3 in a friendly match with goals from Leo Messi, Neymar Jr, Luis Suárez, Paco Alcácer and Rafinha.
The Catalan club burst out of the traps and nearly went ahead after just four minutes when a high press caught the defence off guard but Neymar could only find the post with his effort.
MSN strike early
Four minutes later however, the deadlock was broken when Messi’s perfect chipped cross grazed the top of Suárez’s head for 1-0.
Two minutes later, Messi got on the scoresheet with a neat side-footed finish from close range and the MSN completed the set shortly after.
Rafinha’s attempted cross was initially snuffed out by the defence but the Brazilian calmly played in his compatriot Neymar on the rebound who then slotted the ball home for 3-0.
Al-Ahli fight back
The Saudi Arabian side had little joy in the opening part of the game but vastly improved after the initial goal-glut. Salman Al Moasher was the first to test Jasper Cillessen on 19 minutes before captain Taisir Al Jassim going on a mazy run before unleashing a shot that went just wide.
The same player then came close to catching out the Dutch stopper with a fine lob from the edge of the box but Cillessen managed to divert wide.
There were plenty of changes made by either side at the half-hour mark, with the front three of Barça plus Gerard Piqué making way, while Al-Ahli brought on Emirati star Omar Abdulrahman.
Al-Ahli continued to pose problems early in the second period and got their reward albeit in dubious circumstances.
Ali Awaji beat Jordi Masip to a pass across goal and, despite the substitute keeper appearing to make no contact with the player, the referee awarded a spot-kick.
Abdulrahman stepped up and, in the most nonchalant fashion, dinked the ball down the middle of the goal to make it 3-1.
Alcácer and Rafinha seal the game
Barça managed to quickly restore their lead as Paco Alcácer scored his first goal for the club with a good glancing header from Ivan Rakitic’s cross.
Rafinha made it 5-1 minutes later as he combined with Alcácer outside the box before dribbling beyond a handful of defenders and then the goalkeeper before tapping into an empty net.
Al-Ahli did not let their heads drop and managed to make a fight of it. Giannis Fetfatzidis ran at the Barça defence before playing in Mohanad Asiri down the left hand side and with his first touch fired past Masip at the near post.
Five minutes later, the same player was on hand to tap in from close range to make it 5-3, but Barça held on for the win in an exciting exhibition game.