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Neymar bags first Barca goal in Thai rout

Updated 07 Aug 2013 14:31:52

Neymar bags first Barca goal in Thai rout

Brazilian wonderkid Neymar scored his first goal in Barcelona colours as the Catalan giants swatted aside Thailand 1-7 in a friendly in Bangkok on Wednesday.

Spain international Pedro notched a neat hat-trick, while Argentine Lionel Messi scored a brace -- including one from the penalty spot -- in a first half appearance that delighted the near 50,000-capacity crowd at Bangkok's Rajamangala stadium.

Second-half substitute Alexis Sanchez scored the visitor's seventh and final goal early in the second half as new manager Gerardo Martino's side cruised to a routine win over a plucky but callow Thai side.

Thailand's star striker Teerasil Dangda scored the hosts' consolation goal from the penalty spot in the last minute of the first-half following a bungled recovery tackle by young Cameroonian centre-half Frank Bagnack.

Barca are the fourth big name side to travel to Bangkok this summer hot on the heels of English Premier League giants Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool who have all toured the kingdom.

The Catalan side return to Asia three years after their last tour of the football-mad continent -- home to a massive fan base and huge potential sums in sponsorship.

The tour is also final chance for Martino to assess his players in official friendly action before they start the defence of their La Liga crown on August 18.

All eyes were on Barca's flamboyant new signing Neymar, after reports he had been diagnosed with anaemia.

But the Blaugrana's 57 million euros ($75.7 million, £49.5 million) signing showed no sign of illness in a lively 45 minutes, the highlight of which was his landmark goal from close range on 12 minutes, sparking the rout.

The Brazilian international, who joined the Catalans in June, also showed promising flashes of link-up play with Messi as Barca cruised to a 1-5 half-time lead.

Cesc Fabregas, the subject of a major transfer bid from Manchester United, was at the heart of Barca's best moves, his metronomic passing from the left side of the three-man midfield reminding spectators why the club are so keen to keep the playmaker.

The second half saw Barca's first choice midfield of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets replace Alex Song and highly-regarded youngster Sergi Roberto.

Fabregas pushed up into the front three as Messi and Neymar also made way.

Xavi immediately stepped up the tempo, bouncing the ball off Fabregas before he too withdrew with 20 minutes to play.

Pedro completed his hat-trick with a nicely taken first-time lob on 47 minutes, which Sanchez followed a minute later, tapping home another sweeping Barca move.

Barca travel to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to play a Malaysia XI on August 10.


AFP

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