Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | Spain

David Villa © Reuters Images

Tito delighted with the return of 'The Kid'



There were plenty of reasons for Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova to be satisfied after his side secured a spot in the last 16 of the King's Cup on Wednesday but David Villa's double probably comes near the top of the list.

The prolific Spain striker, sidelined for eight months after breaking his leg at the Club World Cup last December, netted twice in a 3-1 victory at the Nou Camp that eliminated third-tier Alaves 6-1 on aggregate.

The goals were his seventh and eighth in 16 appearances since his return from the injury, the first a magnificent free kick, and took his career tally for club and country to 301.

Known as "El Guaje", or "The Kid" in his native Asturian, Villa looks to be back to something near his best at a crucial time for Barca, who are top of La Liga and through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

"Every day he looks better," Vilanova, in his first season in charge after stepping up from assistant coach to replace Pep Guardiola at the end of last term, told a news conference.

"It was a complicated injury and he has worked a great deal over the summer," he added.

"He is a player who has the scorer's gift and it is important to have him in the squad."

Villa, who turns 31 on Monday, joined Barca from Valencia at the end of the 2009-10 season after stints at Sporting Gijon and Real Zaragoza, where he scored 40 goals for each club.

After netting 128 times for Valencia, he now has 40 for Barca, plus another 53 in 85 games for Spain, making him the world and European champions' record scorer, nine ahead of former Real Madrid striker Raul.

Speaking to Barca TV after Wednesday's Cup match, Villa said the "nicest" goal he had scored was an effort from the middle of the pitch for Valencia against Deportivo La Coruna, while the most important was the one against Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final.

With Barca already leading 2-1, Villa's beautifully executed curling strike from the edge of the penalty area effectively killed off United's hopes of a comeback and helped to seal the Catalan club's second European crown in three seasons.

"When you see the statistics it makes you think you have done a good job and you feel proud," said Villa, who was declared fit only on Wednesday morning after a brief stint on the sidelines with an ankle problem.

"It's been a long time since I came through a full game and I am very pleased to have lasted the 90 minutes," he added.

PROMISING YOUNGSTERS

With Barca leading 3-0 from the first leg against Alaves, Vilanova was able to rest regulars including Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets on Wednesday and gave promising youngsters including Jonathan Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto and Gerard Deulofeu a run out.

He also gave a senior debut to 21-year-old left back Carles Planas, who Vilanova said had been rewarded for good performances for Barca's B team in Spain's second division.

"He is a player who has quality and he is perfectly capable of playing with us," Vilanova said.

"With Adriano and (Jordi) Alba in the squad it's not going to be easy for him but this Wednesday it was the right time."

Turning to 18-year-old striker Deulofeu, Vilanova added: "Not all footballers can step up to the first team at the age of 17 or 18.

"We have to keep challenging him. He has a lot of talent but also a lot of things still to improve."

Shop

Gerrard: My Autobiography
Steven Gerrard is a hero to millions, not only as the inspirational captain of Liverpool FC, but as a key member of the England team.
R161.00
Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.
R182.00
Mitre Monde Soccer Ball - White
Voted as one of the UK's favourite match balls
R219.00


Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Other Live Streaming

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Sports Talk



Carol Radull
How do you pay tribute to Thierry Henry?
If you’re a fan of the classic musical “The Sound of Music” then you will be familiar with the...

Dr Errol Sweeney
Some refs invite criticism
Why is it that some referees appear to invite criticism? Why is it that some referees put a...

Neil Tovey
Backing Tinkler for the big time
With Vladimir Vermezovic having jumped ship, Orlando Pirates find themselves in a state of flux.

Chima Emmanuel Aguma
Wenger in or out? I say out!
After Arsenal’s loss to Stoke City this past weekend, the call for Arsene Wenger to step down as...

Sunday Oliseh
Football's new undisputed best club?
When Barcelona appointed Pep Guardiola as head coach in 2008, their primary objective was to stop...

Arjun Vidyarthi
Make or break time
Ten years ago today, I remember Andy Gray's iconic commentary at Anfield, when Steven Gerrard...