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Guardiola pleased with Mascherano start

21 October 2010 08:13

(GSM) - Barcelona boss Josep Guardiola has praised Javier Mascherano's display following the Argentina skipper's full debut resulted in the Catalan's winning with him for the first time since joining from Liverpool in the off-season.

The 26-year-old, who came on as a late substitute for Xavi as Barcelona beat Valencia 2-1 at Camp Nou on Saturday night, had failed to win any of the games he had started prior to Wednesday night's 2-0 victory at home to København in the UEFA Champions League.

After making his league debut in Barcelona's shock 2-0 defeat at home to Hercules last month, the former Liverpool star has had two starts that resulted in recent draws against Rubin Kazan and Real Mallorca.

However, Xavi's failure to recover in time from an injury meant Mascherano being handed another opportunity alongside fellow holding midfielder Sergio Busquets, completing the full 90 minutes in the 2-0 win.

And despite Mascherano's Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi, who scored both goals on the night, stole the show Guardiola was happy with his most recent signing. "I'm very satisfied with him. He played well and he is happy. He is a competitive player with a lot of quality," he said after the match. He deserves his opportunity and he is going to be an important player for us."

Barcelona dominated most parts of the match for the most part but failed to numerous chances and suffered a couple of scares before Messi's late clincher. Nevertheless, Guardiola believes an improvement in front of goal is imminent.

"We just need to put the ball in," he said. "Had we got the second goal (earlier), we would have been much more relaxed. But I'm not worried. We can always play better, but overall I am very happy with the win and delighted with my players."

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