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    Messi, Pedro unlock stubborn Dynamo Kiev

    New Delhi: The defending Champions League winners returned home to the Camp Nou in dominant style as they dispose of Dynamo Kiev 2-0. Lionel Messi set them on their way with a typically cool strike in the first half, before Pedro made sure of the points with an equally clinical strike 15 minutes from time.

    Barcelona expectedly came charging out of the blocks and Messi had the first crack at goal after just two minutes when he spun past his marker outside the box and unleashed a left-footed half volley which flashed wide.

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    But Dynamo responded almost immediately when Gerson Magrao raced past Dani Alves into the box down the left flank but smashed his shot into the side netting.

    That close shave only stunned the Blaugrana into action and they began bombarding Oleksander Shovkovski’s goal down both channels.

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    The Ukrainians, to their credit, chose not to sit back and defend in numbers, but they almost paid for it when their backline was carved open on 14 minutes.

    Messi played in a gorgeous through ball to Andres Iniesta but Yevhen Khacheridi executed a well-timed sliding tackle to bring down the Barca attacker and the referee waved away any penalty shouts by pointing to the corner flag.

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    A mad scramble on 20 minutes infront of Victor Valdes’ goal almost left the Camp Noufaithful with their hearts in their mouths as the Blaugrana rearguard struggled to clear a corner but Ognjen Vukojevic only managed to thump the loose ball wide, albeit off an unfortunate deflection from his own player.

    Straight to the other end, Zlatan Ibrahimovic then left the home fans gasping in amazement as he nimbly danced his way past three defenders down the left wing but his cutback was hacked away.

    However, the deadlock was broken on 25 minutes when who else but Messi ran onto Iniesta’s delicate through pass, skipped past two challenges before rifling a low shot past Shovkovski at the near post.

    Two minutes later, Messi almost replicated his goal, except the through ball came from Ibrahimovic and Shovkovski was quick off his line this time to smother the chance.

    Ibra himself then had a glorious opportunity in the 31st minute when Xavi released him through on goal but the Dynamo goalkeeper came charging out again to deny the Swede’s attempted chip.

    The visitors had the ball in the back of the net on 40 minutes when Vukojevic rattled in a loose ball from a freekick delivery, but the linesman already had his flag up for offside.

    A minute into first half injury time, Shovkovski pulled off the most miraculous of double saves to deny Messi one on one, before tipping over Ibahimovic’s looping scissor-kick.

    Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola made a change for the second period, withdrawing Iniesta and sending in young Pedro in his place.

    But it didn’t disrupt the team’s rhythm as just two minutes into the restart, Dani Alves’ swerving cross found Ibrahimovic, but the striker thumped his header straight into Shovkovski’s arms.

    Messi continued to look lively and dangerous but without the link-up play with ‘San Andres’, Barca found clear-cut chances hard to come by. Frustrated, Ibrahimovic decided to try his luck from all of 35 yards out from a freekick, but his ambitious attempt sailed well wide.

    Ibra had a clear opening in the 65th minute when he was released clean through on goal by Seydou Keita but his low shot inside the box was slapped away by the brilliant Shovkovski.

    With 15 minutes left on the clock, Pedro wrapped up the points when he made it 2-0 toBarcelona. Ibrahimovic cheekily feigned a shot on the edge of the box and instead slipped in the substitute, who finished clinically with a left foot effort into the bottom corner.

    Dani Alves almost put the icing on the cake five minutes later when his rocket of a freekick from 25 yards out was saved by Shovkovski. Xavi had an identical opportunity moments later but his attempt just shaved the bar.

    Artem Milevsky almost pulled one back for the Ukrainians two minutes from time when he pounced on Sergi Busquets’s misdirected header, but his lob over the on-rushing Victor Valdes failed to dip under the bar.

    Valery Gazzayev’s men fought until the final whistle in search of a consolation goal, but they were unable to trouble the Barca goalkeeper again as the defending European champions register their first win this campaign.

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