FC Barcelona swaggered into the record books with a sparkling 3-0 Group A win against ten-man Internazionale FC in the Camp Nou - their eleventh successive UEFA Champions League victory.
Antic's winning start
Goals from Javier Saviola, Philip Cocu and Patrick Kluivert were more than enough to enable the home side to turn their stuttering domestic form on its head and eclipse the ten-match winning run established by AC Milan in the 1992/93 season. In doing so, they gave coach Radomir Antic a winning start in his first European match since replacing Louis van Gaal.
The longer the game went on, the more Barça dominated - although it was effectively over as a contest once Alvaro Recoba had been sent off for a challenge on Carles Puyol with ten minutes still to play. It took just eight minutes for the home side to score. Saviola latched on to a Xavi Hernández pass and took the ball neatly wide of Fabio Cannavaro before letting fly with a left-foot shot which beat Francesco Toldo at his right-hand post.
Christian Vieri had a great chance to level the scores in the 28th minute when he was played clean through but failed to control a high ball dropping over his shoulder before Carlos Puyol scuttled back to clear. Barcelona immediately brought the ball forward with Saviola, who forced a corner. The set-piece fell to Kluivert, who watched his stinging effort parried by Toldo straight to the feet of Cocu, who made no mistake.
Five minutes before half-time, Michael Reiziger came to Barcelona's rescue as Cannavaro's flick was cleared off the line and moments later Barça keeper Roberto Bonano tipped Luigi Di Biagio's rising drive over the crossbar.
Barcelona dominated the second half, however, and Cocu went close to grabbing his second goal of the night when he was left completely unmarked but his 56th-minute downward header from Xavi Hernández's cross struck the post and bounced out with Inter's defence flat-footed.
Recoba had a chance to pull a goal back for the Italians on the hour but, under pressure from Frank de Boer, he lashed the effort wide and it was to be the visitors' last meaningful attack. Seven minutes later a wonderful jinking run from Saviola tore them apart in their own penalty area and when the Argentinian squared the ball, Kluivert slid in to crash Barcelona's third goal past Toldo with the aid of the left-hand post.
The game's tempo was raised again when Recoba appeared to stamp on Puyol as the two challenged for a loose ball. The Barcelona players were incensed at the Uruguayan's challenge and referee Anders Frisk brandished the red card to a sheepish-looking Recoba.
To complete a perfect night for the Barcelona fans, Luis Enrique made a late entrance as a substitute having spent four months out with an achilles problem - but by that stage the hard work had already been done.
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