An acrobatic shot in the last minute of play by Uruguay’s Luis Suarez has brought home the 54th Joan Gamper Trophy to Barcelona with a 2-1 win over Arsenal in a rather typical pre-season friendly match.
Barca’s Argentine team captain, Lionel Messi, spoke publicly to fans before the match but did not take the pitch, and two other South Americans who just returned from vacation and had not yet trained with the team — Chile’s Arturo Vidal and Brazil’s Coutinho — did not play either, with the latter’s countryman Arthur also sitting out the match, having attended just two practice sessions with the team, reports Efe news.
The recently signed Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong did play and showed some of their expected sparkle, and Riqui Puig was very active along the sidelines and was the only one of the Barca squad to take a shot on goal during the first half.
It was Aubameyang who got the visiting Arsenal on the board first in the 36th minute.
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde made a number of substitutions and the team began to up the energy after the break, although it was Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ scoring of an own goal in the 69th minute that got the host team on the board for the first time before the almost 99,000 fans on hand.
It looked like the match might end in a tie, requiring a penalty shootout, but then Sergi Roberto knocked the ball over to Suarez in the final seconds, where the Uruguayan headed it home over the English defenders for the 2-1 victory.