Barça youth finish off Rubin

A largely second-string Barcelona consigned Rubin Kazan to a place in the UEFA Europa League after easing to a 2-0 victory in tonight's UEFA Champions League encounter at the Nou Camp.

Andreu Fontas' deflected second-half effort and a late Victor Vazquez strike earned already-qualified Barça their fourth win in Group C and meant Rubin, who started the day a point behind second-placed FC Copenhagen, would have to settle for third place in the standings.

Defender Fontas was delighted to have the opportunity to shine on his competition debut.

"It was impossible to do better and I get a goal into the bargain so I can't be happier, though I was a bit nervous to start with," he told Spanish television.

With top spot in the bag, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola made a host of changes to the side that beat Osasuna 3-0 in La Liga at the weekend - the Catalan giants' eighth win in their last nine competitive games. The likes of David Villa, Xavi, Pedro Rodriguez and Dani Alves were given the night off, while Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes started on the bench. Guardiola even opted against calling on his big guns despite losing Jeffren Suarez and Bojan Krkic to injuries in the opening 35 minutes, Vazquez and Marc Bartra the players sent on in their place.

It was impossible to do better and I get a goal into the bargain so I can't be happier, though I was a bit nervous to start with.
Andreu Fontas, Barcelona defender

Barça's youngsters dominated possession in the opening period but, without their superstars, struggled to create much to worry visiting goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov with the majority of efforts coming from outside the box and failing to hit the target. It took the hosts just six minutes of the second period to make the breakthrough, though. Thiago made his way into the box and, after seeing his attempted cross come back to him, laid the ball back to Fontas, whose close-range shot struck the hand of Rubin midfielder Vitali Kaleshin before rolling past the wrong-footed Ryzhikov and into the far side of the net.

That was a big blow to Rubin's hopes of claiming second spot off FC Copenhagen, who by that stage were already 2-0 up at home to Panathinaikos in tonight's other match, and worse was to follow for the Russians as Guardiola opted to make his third change soon after - sending on the in-form Messi. Surprisingly, that change actually coincided with arguably Rubin's best chance of the match as within 60 seconds of the Argentinian's arrival the visitors broke away through Rafal Murawski. However, his attempted scoop over Jose Pinto was poor and the stand-in Barcelona goalkeeper was able to collect comfortably.

After that it was Barca who looked the only team likely to add to the scoreline with Messi going close with a couple of efforts from the edge of the box. Barça, the 2006 and 2009 European champions, ensured there would be no late upset as Vazquez made it 2-0 in the 82nd minute. He picked up a pass from Adriano, took one touch before curling a low shot past Ryzhikov from the edge of the box to earn Barca their first win over Rubin in four meetings and gain revenge for their 2-1 home defeat by the same opponents in last year's competition.