Messi and Afellay strikes secure victory for Barcelona

Bucharest: Goals from Lionel Messi and Ibrahim Affelay ensured Barcelona eased to a 2-0 victory over Dinamo Bucharest, in their final pre-season outing of the summer.

It did not take long for Tito Vilanova`s side to take the lead, with Messi turning away from the challenge of defender Dragos Grigore and firing home on four minutes.

That goal, his fifth in pre-season, marked the beginning of an extended period of dominance for the Blaugrana, as Dinamo struggled to create any clear-cut chances in the opening period.

The closest they came to threatening Victor Valdes goal was on 25 minutes, when Marius Alexe blazed a shot wide from the right-hand side of the area, under pressure from Marc Barta.

Barca had chances to double their lead, with Messi and Alexis Sanchez guilty of wasting decent opportunities, leaving last season’s La Liga runners-up with a slender one-goal lead at the break.

Half-time saw Vilanova rotate his squad ahead with a number of substitutions and those changes contributed to a fragmented start to the second-half, with Bucharest coming close to a 51st minute equaliser.

An in-swinging corner was met with a firm header from Marius Tucudean and Valdes had to be at his best to keep out and tip the ball over the crossbar.

One of the Barcelona substitutes, Andres Iniesta, then came within a whisker of making it 2-0 on 58 minutes, when he dinked an ambitious shot towards goal from the edge of the 18-yeard-box, with the ball drifting onto the roof of Kristijan Naumovski`s net.

Dinamo`s Laurentiu Rus then slammed a shot wide as his team looked to draw level, after he latched on to a neat backheel from Issa Ba inside the penalty area.

A further raft of second-half changes disrupted the flow of the match and that was reflected in the decreasing number of goal-scoring chances after the break.

There was positive news for the Blaugrana late in the second-half, as David Villa returned to action for the first time since breaking his leg in the Club World Cup semi-final against Al Sadd, back in December.

Despite the slow pace of the second period, Afellay managed to stamp his mark on the game by making it 2-0 in injury- time, with a lobbed finish, after he controlled Javier Mascherano`s through-ball brilliantly inside the penalty area.

The victory tonight makes it five pre-season matches unbeaten for Vilanova`s men, with their La Liga campaign set to get under way next weekend.

The Catalan side`s first match of the new league season is on August 19, when they play host to Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

The Romanian Liga I, meanwhile, has already kicked off, with Dinamo making a solid start to the season, winning twice and drawing once in their opening three games.

Their next league opponents are Concordia Chiajna, who they face on August 17.

Charlie Scott/

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