Sergino Dest became the first US international to score for Barcelona in their 4-0 Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman put on a team without the talisman Lionel Messi and midfielder Frenkie de Jong. Both players stayed behind in Spain to rest over the past few weeks with club and internationals building up.
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The Catalans seemed to miss Messi in the final third as they dominated possession in a goalless first half but never had legitimate scoring opportunities.
The guests were ahead, however, when Dest, the first American to play for Barcelona, finished smoothly after a good exchange with Carles Alena and Martin Braithwaite, putting his side 1-0 ahead.
The goal makes Dest the 10th US international to score in the Champions League.
“Really happy to have scored my first goal. Overall, we played well as a team, everyone played well and we won,” said Dest after the game.
“We still have two games to go, but we’re in a good position right now. I’m pretty happy we won and I can’t wait for the next game.
“I’m really happy to score my first goal. I think we needed a goal. It was important to make it 1-0. Hopefully there will be many more to come.”
Braithwaite doubled their lead minutes later when he shot home after a corner from Oscar Mingueza at the far post to improve the Catalans’ lead.
Gerard Pique’s severe knee injury in the weekend’s loss to Atletico left Barca with a single center-back and Koeman had to turn to 21-year-old Mingueza, who started the season on the club’s reserve side.
Barcelona’s third came again courtesy of Braithwaite, who shot around 70 minutes from the penalty spot on his second night to secure his team’s fourth win of four in the Champions League.
There was more history for the United States late in the game when Konrad De La Fuente joined Dest to play for the first time two Americans were on the field for Barca.
Konrad is the seventh US international to appear in the UCL this season, breaking the record of six in the 2004/05 season.
Commenting on his Barca debut, Konrad said: “Unbelievable feeling on my debut and also my Champions League debut. I am grateful for everyone who helped me get here and I will continue to work hard and hopefully get more chances. “
“I’m really happy. I worked hard for this moment from an early age and finally got a chance.”
Substitute Antoine Griezmann added shine with a goal in stoppage time.
With the win, Koeman’s team has secured a place in the round of 16 for the 17th time in a row and has a good chance of winning Group G ahead of second-placed Juventus.
“We achieved our goal of qualifying and we got a very positive picture of ourselves,” said Koeman.
“We played with a lot of energy and although we weren’t very effective in the first half, we dominated the second and had some very nice passages.
“Every player was hungry and the young players also performed well.”