Barcelona beat Kobe in Iniesta send-off

June 07, 2023

TOKYO: Spanish champions Barcelona cruised past Andres Iniesta´s Vissel Kobe 2-0 in a friendly in Tokyo on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after completing their domestic season. Franck Kessie and Eric Garcia were on target for Barca, who were in the Japanese capital to give Iniesta a celebratory send-off before he leaves Vissel next month.


Iniesta, who made more than 600 appearances for Barcelona before joining Vissel in 2018, has said he intends to keep playing but does not know where his next move will be. He started in midfield for J-League leaders Vissel but failed to get on the scoresheet at Tokyo´s National Stadium, despite hitting the side-netting with a slick shot in the first half.

Iniesta left the field to warm applause in the 80th minute, before being given a hug on the touchline from Barcelona manager and former midfield partner Xavi. Barcelona arrived in Tokyo less than 24 hours before kick-off, flying straight from their domestic season-ending 2-1 defeat away to Celta Vigo.

Youngster Pablo Torre hit the post in the second minute before Kessie gave them the lead just under 15 minutes later. Torre cut the Kobe defence open with a clinical through-ball, before Kessie made no mistake with the finish. Garcia doubled Barcelona´s lead two minutes later, heading home direct from a corner. Kobe went on to make a game of it, and Iniesta hit the side-netting before Koya Yuruki drew a fantastic double save out of Barcelona goalkeeper Inaki Pena. Brazilian forward Jean Patric also went close with two spectacular efforts in the second half.