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Youthful Barcelona breeze past BATE

FC Barcelona 4-0 FC BATE Borisov
Josep Guardiola's men equalled the group stage record of 20 goals by cruising to victory against already eliminated BATE.

Sergi Roberto is congratulated after opening the scoring
Sergi Roberto is congratulated after opening the scoring ©Getty Images

European champions FC Barcelona demonstrated the health of their youth system with a powerful and clear-cut 4-0 defeat of FC BATE Borisov, whose chances of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League knockout stage ended.

Josep Guardiola left out 14 first-team regulars but thanks to goals from prospects Sergi Roberto, Martín Montoya and two from Pedro Rodríguez, Barcelona extended the Belarusian title holders' record of having lost on all their visits to Spain.

Perhaps only Barça could rest 12 UEFA Champions League winners and turn out a side capable of such fluent, technically adept and confident football. In this Group H display Guardiola's youthful team – average age 21.4 years for outfield players – pressed, passed and entertained the crowd as if this was meat and drink to them.

From the opening seconds when Rafinha rapped a fierce shot off the body of BATE keeper Aleksandr Gutor it was clear there was no stage fright. The combination play between Rafinha, Isaac Cuenca and Roberto drove the group winners forward. Despite a minor scare when Maksim Bordachev intercepted a pass aimed at Rafinha and set up Renan Bressan for a mis-hit effort in the 24th minute, the Blaugrana forged ahead.

When Cuenca flicked a pass towards Pedro on the edge of the box, Bordachev's intervention simply teed Roberto up for a side-footed effort beyond Gutor for the opener. Marc Bartra produced an outrageous flick over his own head soon afterwards, about eight metres from the Barça goal line, to clear danger from Artyom Kontsevoi's cross. Roberto slid a simple-looking chance past the post in the 33rd minute yet not long after the break the hosts enforced their clear superiority.

Montoya, rampaging down the right-hand touch line, was supplied with a pinpoint ball from Cuenca and the wing back rattled his shot past Gutor to a massive roar of appreciation. By now BATE were merely stemming the flow and Guardiola's charges had their tails up. Pedro had just seen an audacious first-time chip saved splendidly when, seconds later, another burst of speed from Cuenca and cross to the front post had the man who scored the opening goal in last season's Wembley final producing an instep flick that beat Gutor.

The seal was set in the dying moments when Aleksandr Volodko tripped Cuenca in the penalty area and Pedro rounded the night off by firing in a landmark strike – Barcelona's 20th goal in the section, equalling the group stage record.