BARCELONA, April 7, 2011 (AFP) - Barcelona took a major step towards the Champions League semi-finals with a commanding 5-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk as clinical finishing proved the difference between the sides.
Andres Iniesta gave Barca a lead right from the start but Shakhtar spurned a number of good chances to draw level before Dani Alves and Gerard Pique extended the lead.
|AFP - Barcelona's Brazilian defender Dani Alves (2R) celebrates after scoring|
Yaroslav Rakitskiy pulled a goal back for the Ukrainians but Seydou Keita immediately responded for the home side and then Xavi Hernandez gave the Catalan side a resounding win.
There were no real surprises in the Barcelona starting line-up with Pedro Rodriguez only fit enough for the bench and so Iniesta was pushed into attack with Keita providing a more defensive feel in midfield.
At the back as in the 1-0 victory over Villarreal at the weekend, Sergio Busquets started alongside Gerard Pique with Carles Puyol injured.
For Shakhtar, Dmytro Chygrynskiy missed the chance through injury of a return to the Nou Camp and show the home fans what he can really do after an ill-fated season where he failed to justify his big money move.
Ahead of the game Barca coach Pep Guardiola warned against complacency as Shakhtar are a team which has improved season upon season. They have added to a solid base with a forward line of quality attacking Brazilians.
The last time the teams met in the 2009 Uefa Super Cup it took Barcelona until the 115th minute to score the only goal of the game but thanks to a lucky deflection they were ahead Wednesday after just two minutes with Iniesta calmly slotting passed the keeper.
Experienced Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu has always been an exponent of attacking football and in an action packed opening spell they showed they had a forward line to hurt Barca.
In particular it was the pace of Luiz Adriano that was causing a danger and he had several excellent opportunities but his composure let him down.
He failed to take the ball in his stride after being put through and then after a delightful pass from Douglas Costa he prodded wide of the post.
While Leo Messi was a constant threat playing through the middle, Shakhtar were also causing problems for themselves. A careless back pass from Mykola Ishchenko allowed in Messi, whose finishing for once let him down and his attempted lob was caught by the keeper.
Barca did double the lead when Alves timed his run to perfection to keep on side and collect an Iniesta pass before finishing in an empty net.
After the break Shakhtar were rueding their misfortune when a Pique shot from a corner went in after striking Rakitskiy and wrong footing the keeper.
Rakitskiy made amends at the other end by flicking a free-kick passed keeper Victor Valdes but any hope of a comeback was short-lived. From the restart Barca attacked and Messi found Keita in oceans of space and he powered a shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the area.
There was to be no joy for Adriano as he hit the inside of the post for Shakhtar and then in the final minutes Xavi was left unmarked to convert a Dani Alves cross and put Barca on the verge of the semi-finals.