FC Barcelona beat Izvidac Ljubski

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> F.C. Barcelona travelled to Ljubuski in Bosnia and Herzegovina and beat HRK Izvidac Ljubuski 35-27 at the City Hall.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:49 IST
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Bosnia & Herzegovina:

Despite being the reigning European champions, it is a brand new beginning for the F.C. Barcelona handball team this season with the arrival of coach Xesco Espar, who has taken over the reins from Valero Rivera. The retirement of Enric Masip, together with other departures, has signalled the end of one glorious era and the beginning of another as the team travelled to Ljubuski in Bosnia and Herzegovina to face HRK Izvidac Ljubuski at the City Hall. The Catalan giants have a highly competitive squad including some top rank international reinforcements such Dejan Peric, Lars Jeppesen, Luka Zvizej and Salva Puig, as well as home-grown talent in the form of Valero Rivera Jr. and Vmctor Tomas. An old hand opened the scoring as Laszio Nagy - the skilful Hungarian who signed for Barcelona aged only 19 - out-muscled the home defence before a clinical finish after three minutes. However, the hosts were competitive early on as Adnan Harmandic's powerful shot beat David Barrufet in the Barcelona goal to reduce the deficit in the eighth minute. But when Darko Martinovic tried to release Zeljko Musa with a deft backhand pass, he only succeeded in setting up a counter-attack as Nagy intercepted and then set up Dragan Skrbic for a simple finish. 7-3 to Barcelona in the 10th minute. However, the luck was with the hosts moments later when Jeppesen's fierce shot rebounded off the crossbar and into the path of Adnan Jaskic, and he released Musa who scores with an emphatic finish. 11-8 to Barcelona in the 21st minute. Then, in the last seconds of the half, Fernando Hernandez finished off a tremendous team move to give his side a commanding lead at the interval. 19-12 to Barcelona in the 30th minute. It was to prove to be an unassailable lead as Dragan Cavar's powerful shot cannoned off the crossbar and into the path of Victor Tomas, who led the counter-attack before scoring with ease. 20-13 to Barcelona in the 34th minute. Barca proceeded to enjoy regular turnovers of possession as Nikola Price's attempted pass was intercepted by Garcia Puanin and he raced away to extend his side's lead once more. Finally, in the last attack of the game, Luka Zvizej acrobatically finished off a great team move to complete the scoring as Barcelona comfortably won the first game in the defence of their European title. (AP)