Lechia Gdansk 2-2 Barcelona: Neymar makes debut in friendly draw

Max Bentley
Lechia Gdansk 2-2 Barcelona: Neymar makes debut in friendly draw

Barcelona continued its preseason preparations with an entertaining 2-2 draw against a spirited Lechia Gdansk side, as $75 million summer signing Neymar made his first appearance for the club.

The Catalan side twice responded to going behind as goals from Sergi Roberto and Lionel Messi denied the Polish side a victory.

Despite Barcelona's Confederations Cup stars not yet being ready for action, Jordi Roura was able to name a relatively strong starting XI, with captain Messi flanked either side by Alexis Sanchez and Cristian Tello.

Youngsters Sergi Roberto and Jonathan dos Santos were once again given the chance to shine in midfield while Sergi Gomez and Marc Bartra patrolled the center of defense.

The match started with the typical feel of a preseason friendly, with the Polish side looking to impress in the early stages and the Blaugrana easing themselves in slowly.

The Spanish champions should have opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Dos Santos's inviting corner fell the way of Sanchez in the box, but the Chilean could not adjust his feet quickly enough, and he poked the ball over the crossbar with the goal gaping.

Surprisingly, it was Lechia Gdansk that took the lead on 16 minutes when captain Jaroslaw Bieniuk rose highest to thunder a header past Jose Manuel Pinto from Pawel Dawidowicz's corner.

The goal certainly seemed to awaken a sluggish Barcelona side, and the lead was short-lived as Martin Montoya produced a wonderful low cross from the right for Roberto to poke home only nine minutes later.

Mexican standout Dos Santos went close to putting the Liga champions in front when he caressed an effort inches past the post, before Mateusz Bak produced a smart save to deny a Messi free kick on the stroke of halftime.

After Barcelona's 7-0 thumping of Valerenga on Saturday, many expected another Blaugrana goalfest; however, it was the home side who came out of the blocks fastest after the break and standout performer Piotr Grzelczak restored Lechia's lead within five minutes of the restart. Montoya failed to deal with a long ball, allowing the 25-year-old to nip in and fire an unstoppable shot past substitute goalkeeper Oler and into the roof of the net.

Patryk Tuszynski missed a glorious chance to extend the lead on 55 minutes, and it proved costly a minute later as Sanchez slipped a neat ball behind the Lechia defense for Messi, who coolly lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.

Roura made wholesale changes as he looked to give some of his 'B' side players a run out before Neymar finally made his Blaugrana bow with 10 minutes to play, much to the delight of the 40,000 fans inside the PGE Arena.

The Brazilian did not have sufficient time to make a significant contribution, although he will certainly be expecting to feature for longer when Spain's Confederations Cup stars return for the Joan Gamper Trophy match against Santos on Friday.