Barcelona end Asia tour with win over Malaysia XI
Spanish giants Barcelona wrapped up their Asian tour with another comprehensive victory Saturday, beating a Malaysian XI 3-1 at the Shah Alam Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
With World Player of the Year Lionel Messi on the bench over injury concerns, Brazilian wonderkid Neymar was the star of a tight first half, showcasing his talents to make one goal and score another.
First, the 21-year-old wriggled free on the left before sending a pinpoint cross for Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas to head home.
It was a tame header and Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat should have done better, but he may have been distracted by a firecracker that was set off by a fan.
Malaysia, who had gone closest to opening the scoring, equalised in the 40th minute when the ball fell to Amri Yahyah, and the striker curled in from the edge of the box.
The home fans' joy was short-lived as two minutes later, Neymar -- who was this week reportedly diagnosed with anaemia -- broke free and beat two defenders before shooting home.
Neymar joined Barcelona after a summer move from Santos and opened his account for the club in the 7-1 win over the Thai national team on Wednesday, on the first leg of a tour designed to promote Barca's brand in the region.
The second half was a drab affair with the teams making multiple changes to their lineups, which disrupted the flow.
There were few attacks, and the fans showed their displeasure by whistling at the players.
Many will have already been disgruntled after the match venue was moved from Bukit Jalil National Stadium because of an uneven pitch, which Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin described as an "embarrassment" for the country.
Barcelona, however, managed to add a third after 74 minutes through Gerard Pique, who rammed the ball past substitute goalkeeper Farizal Marlias.
The tour comes three years after Barcelona's last visit to the football-mad continent, before the start of the La Liga season later this month.
Barcelona vice president Jordi Moix Latas said a survey by the club showed it had more fans in Asia than Europe and the Americas combined.
More than 40,000 tickets were sold for the friendly in Malaysia.
"We realise not all our fans can afford to fly to Spain to watch us, and we want to reward them by coming here and spreading our brand," he said.
"In fact, our number one Facebook fans are from Indonesia. As such, we intend to travel to this region for more pre-season matches in the coming years."
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