'One-off' Iniesta puts one on the scoreboard in Barca win

Updated: 2011-10-21 08:08

(China Daily)

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'One-off' Iniesta puts one on the scoreboard in Barca win

Barcelona's Andres Iniesta (second from right) scores against Viktoria Plzen during the clubs' Champions League Group H match at the Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona on Wednesday. Barcelona won 2-0. Iniesta "works harder than anyone and scores more goals than people think," said manager Pep Guardiola. [Photo/Agencies]

Spanish side claims a 2-0 victory thanks to efforts of unheralded star

BARCELONA - Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola hailed Andres Iniesta as a "one-off" talent in a side dominated by Lionel Messi after the Spanish giant's 2-0 Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen.

Iniesta put Barca ahead after 10 minutes, following an excellent interchange with Messi which cut open the Czech defense, with the second goal coming eight minutes from time when David Villa seized on a loose ball.

While Messi was at his majestic best, and was denied by the woodwork on two occasions, Iniesta also produced a superb display of movement and passing that Guardiola was keen to highlight.

"Iniesta is a one-off, he works harder than anyone and scores more goals than people think," he said.

"He gives an important balance to the side. In my first two seasons he played a part in us doing so well but last season he was crucial in us winning La Liga and the Champions League. I think this season he will continue to be crucial."

However, the coach said: "It was a good game, but not an exhibition of football from us.

"We played a difficult opponent and produced a solid performance although we were too slack at times, leaving ourselves open on the counter-attack.

"It is never easy when the opposition is defending very deep but it was not just a case of the ball not going in, we were not clinical enough."

Wednesday's win, which saw Barcelona stay level with AC Milan on seven points in Group H, also saw the defending champion's fifth straight clean sheet and this was without its two main center halves, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique.

'One-off' Iniesta puts one on the scoreboard in Barca win

Javier Mascherano though produced another assured display alongside Eric Abidal in a makeshift partnership.

"It is not as though we are doing anything better now at the back which means we are not conceding, although we are always working to reduce chances. You cannot stop goals but just try and make it more difficult for the opposition," said Guardiola.

"Javier (Mascherano) is playing very well and has adapted excellently to the position. He is one of the best central defenders around at the moment as you can see in the way he helped us win the Champions League."

Plzen coach Pavel Vrba was full of admiration for Barcelona.

"The individual quality of the Barcelona players and their performance was perfect, there is no other way to describe it," Vrba said.

"We can be happy with the first half in the way that we played although we lost balls that we shouldn't have done due to the pressure from Barcelona.

"Obviously we cannot be completely happy with the result but it is not possible for us to play at the same level as Milan or Barcelona.

"You can see how strong Barcelona are in the way they have been far better than the sides they have played in Spain with only Valencia giving them a match."

Agence France-Presse