Barca open title defence with win

Barca open title defence with win

Ibrahimovic stars as holders beat Gijon

The Sweden striker dived full length to nod in a deflected Daniel Alves cross in the 82nd minute after teenage striker Bojan Krkic and Mali international Seydou Keita had put the European champions 2-0 ahead at the break.

With Argentina forward Lionel Messi on international duty, coach Pep Guardiola started with Pedro Rodriguez on the right wing, Ibrahimovic at centre forward and Bojan on the left.

The 19-year-old popped up unmarked to nod in at the back post in the 18th minute after Keita flicked on Xavi's corner, and Keita doubled the lead just before halftime when he headed home an Alves cross.

The match had been put back due to Barca's European Super Cup match against Shakhtar Donetsk in Monaco on Friday, which they won 1-0 with a goal at the end of extra-time, and Guardiola had complained many of the players were feeling the strain.

"I can't complain about anything the team did as everyone was making an effort and everyone was running," he told a news conference. "We controlled the match." Bojan and Brazilian left back Maxwell, who with Ibrahimovic joined from Inter Milan in the close season, were both substituted with injuries in the second half.

Barca said on their website ( Bojan had damaged a left leg muscle and would be out of action for 15-20 days while Maxwell's left leg injury needed further assessment.

"It was a difficult match in Monaco with extra-time and that could have made things hard for us tonight," Keita, who also headed against a post in the second half, said on ‘Barca TV’. "We just want to take each match as it comes and if we can be as successful as last year so much the better," he added.

Ibrahimovic delighted
Ibrahimovic was delighted to score on his La Liga debut but said he still has some way to go to get back to full fitness after surgery on a hand injury. The Sweden international fractured a hand on a trip to the United States with former club Inter Milan and missed most of Barca's pre-season matches.

"I still don't feel 100 percent but I am getting there bit by bit," he said. "I can't say that I will be ready tomorrow but little by little I am making progress and also getting to know the other players."

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