Despite a spirited performance, FC Lokomotiv Moskva were put to the sword by an irresistible FC Barcelona as the two sides met in UEFA Champions League Group H. The hosts abandoned their usual tentative, short-passing game for a fast-paced, energetic approach, but were undone by Patrick Kluivert's opener and a glittering double from Javier Saviola as Barcelona nailed their intentions to the mast with a 3-1 victory in the Lokomotiv stadium.
Barcelona had the ball in the net as early as the four-minute mark when Frank de Boer's stinging shot was parried by Sergey Ovchinnikov and Saviola lashed the loose ball back past the Lokomotiv goalkeeper, but the diminutive Argentinian was ruled offside.
However, it was a fiery Lokomotiv side who were most creative in a hectic opening quarter. First James Obiorah nodded the ball down for Vladimir Maminov, whose shot was deflected wide, then moments later Maminov found Jacob Lekcetho free on the left and when the South African nudged the ball inside to Ruslan Pimenov, the striker drew a fine near-post save from Víctor Valdés.
But Barcelona soon began to stir and after Kluivert's 15th-minute header was saved by Ovchinnikov, Saviola tested the pony-tailed keeper with a 20-metre drive. Then came the opening goal, Gaizka Mendieta's diagonal pass on 29 minutes picking out Luis Enrique racing down the visitors' inside-left channel. The ball dropped on to Dmitri Sennikov's head and broke for Kluivert, who helped the ball across Ovchinnikov into the Lokomotiv net.
The goal briefly took the fire out of Lokomotiv's engine and just three minutes later Xavi Hernández picked out Saviola with a crafty right-footed cross and the smallest man on the pitch rose to flick a header past Ovchinnikov. By now Barcelona were coasting, stroking the ball forward confidently as they searched for more goals, but with the tireless Maminov working hard in the Lokomtiv midfield, the home side never looked dead and buried. Indeed it was Maminov who almost pulled a goal back before the interval, bringing the ball down on the edge of the box before firing narrowly wide.
Barcelona made it 3-0 four minutes into the second half when Luis Enrique broke through the middle and dragged three defenders out of position before slipping the ball to Saviola, who kept his feet under close attention from Lekcetho and slid the ball past Ovchinnikov.
Just before the hour, Lokomotiv's industry was rewarded when Obiorah, who had been booked for simulation in the first half, displayed the finer aspects of his game by neatly nodding a high ball over Carles Puyol and racing around him to lob the advancing Valdés from an acute angle with his right boot.
Kluivert twice went close to restoring Barcelona's three-goal lead, first whistling an overhead kick narrowly wide on 73 minutes and a minute later rattling the post after a slick one-two with Saviola. The Dutchman was substituted immediately and Barcelona did not get near goal again, instead weathering a prolonged Lokomotiv storm during which Maminov, Pimenov, Milan Obradovic and Maksim Buznikin all tried their luck, but failed to beat Valdés.