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Norway’s SWF hits back at stock-picking criticism

first_imgThe manager of Norway’s giant oil fund should steer clear of the kind of speculative investment methods used by commercial asset managers, two independent commentators have argued. Norges Bank, whose arm Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) manages the NOK8.6trn (€863bn) Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), has responded by criticising the premises of the commentators’ analysis. In an article published in Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv (DN), Halvor Hoddevik, executive chairman of Oslo-based consultancy Rann, and Richard Priestley, professor and leader of the Department of Finance at BI, the Norwegian Business School, said NBIM’s stock-picking activities had underperformed by around one percentage point a year since 2013.  This underperformance on some 20% of the GPFG equities portfolio equated to around NOK10bn (€1bn) a year, or NOK12bn including costs, the authors claimed. “Based on new data, we confirm our finding from 2015 that the speculative part of the equity management in the oil fund does not contribute to risk-adjusted returns before costs,” the men said in the article.“This is not a report, it is tabloid commentary in a Norwegian newspaper that doesn’t contribute to an educated discussion”– Egil Matsen, deputy governor of Norges Bank “Even the most conservative estimate of the performance of the stock picking strategy would say that the performance is zero and therefore, after costs, it’s clearly a minus business for which there is no justification.”As with its direct real estate management activities, this “commercial” business undertaken by NBIM was not serving the interests of the Norwegian people, they said.“Let NBIM do what it is good at — spreading risk and harvesting systematic risk premia – [but] other commercial activities like stock picking and managing property portfolios should be abandoned,” Hoddevik and Priestley said.The experts used data from 2013 to September 2017 from NBIM to undertake their analysis.Priestley told IPE he does not oppose active management for the GPFG, in the sense of overweighting assets to certain risk factors in order to harvest a premium.“What I am against is commercial activity, because this should be outside NBIM’s mandate.“The cost is much higher, and I don’t think it is possible for the oil fund to beat the market by picking out stocks — or managing property with partners — so they will most likely make a loss here after costs,” he said.Norges Bank criticised the commentary from Priestley and Hoddevik.Egil Matsen, deputy governor of Norges Bank with particular responsibility regarding matters related to NBIM, said: “We welcome a critical and educated debate about the management of the fund, but this is not a report, it is tabloid commentary in a Norwegian newspaper that doesn’t contribute to an educated discussion.”He said the criticism was based on unclear premises, and that the report’s authors had not disclosed the method or analysis.Matsen argued that the fund’s strategies were interdependent, and should not be evaluated separately.“The annualised excess return for the fund is 27 basis points,” he said, adding that at today’s market value of the fund, this corresponded to NOK20bn in extra return a year.NBIM recently defended its use of active management in both equities and bonds in a letter to the Finance Ministry.Responding to a request by the ministry for analyses of its active management, Øystein Olsen, chairman of the Norwegian central bank Norges Bank and Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive of NBIM, said that over the past three years, the fund’s relative return after costs had been 35 basis points higher than it would have been with a passive indexing strategy.“The fund currently has an investment approach that is index-oriented but where all of the investment strategies are active,” they explained.Having an explicit target to get the highest possible return within the mandate’s constraints was “essential for ensuring the best possible standards in the execution of all parts of the management assignment,” Olsen and Slyngstad wrote.“A passive approach to operational decisions is not an adequate alternative,” they said.Two academics were commissioned by the Norwegian finance ministry to analyse the performance of NBIM’s active management.The report by Magnus Dahlquist, professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, and Bernt Arne Ødegaard, professor at the University of Stavanger, is due to be submitted next month. Norway’s SWF ‘loses NOK12bn a year on stock picking bets’last_img read more

Arsenal aim for October return of fans to Emirates Stadium

first_imgRelatedPosts Runarsson joins Arsenal on four-year deal Arsenal, Wolves want Michael Olise Akpom pens Middlesbrough loan deal Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium could once again ring to the sound of chanting fans next month, with the English Premier League club on Wednesday, saying it planned to allow a reduced crowd.Matches had been played in empty stadiums since Premier League’s coronavirus lockdown was lifted in June. But last week, 2,500 fans were allowed into Brighton & Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium for a pre-season friendly against Chelsea.This was after the government announced pilot events for the return of spectators to elite sport.“We hope to be able to welcome supporters back to Emirates Stadium on a reduced capacity basis from the Sheffield United game scheduled for October 3,” Arsenal said.“’When fans return to Emirates Stadium, extra measures will be in place to protect us all. These are clearly exceptional circumstances and the health, safety and security of everyone is our top priority,” the north London club added in a statement.English FA Cup winners Arsenal, who also claimed the Community Shield last week by beating Liverpool 5-4 on penalty kicks, begin their Premier League campaign at Fulham on September 12. “Gold season ticket-holders and premium members would have priority access to the limited tickets available,” Arsenal said.Reuters/NAN.Tags: ArsenalEmirate stadiumFanlast_img read more

Ryan Mason back for Spurs after ankle knock

first_img Mauricio Pochettino wants Tottenham to prioritise targets already playing in England when the transfer window opens next month. Spurs are keen to sign a striker to provide cover for Harry Kane, who has scored 11 goals already this season but remains Pochettino’s only genuine centre-forward. The Argentine maintains Son Heung-min, Nacer Chadli and Clinton Njie could step in if needed but they are all more comfortable as attacking midfielders – and Njie is now expected to be out until March with a knee injury. His absence means Tottenham are likely to step up their search for another striker but Pochettino says he would prefer a player ready-made for English football. “Always it is difficult to bring in players from outside [England],” Pochettino said. “For them to adapt in the Premier League, to the culture, the language – it is difficult to bring in players from outside. You need to take the right profile. “I prefer to take players from England first. If we have the option to take players from here, I prefer it – from the Premier League, or the Championship or League One.” Norwich boss Alex Neil says his side’s impressive win over Manchester United last week will count for nothing if they don’t build on it. Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason is available for Saturday’s match at home to Norwich after he recovered from an ankle injury. Press Association Mason has not played in almost a month but returned to training this week and is in contention for the clash at White Hart Lane. Danny Rose is also back after missing last weekend’s win over Southampton through illness but Alex Pritchard remains out with an ankle problem. The Canaries registered a 2-1 victory over out-of-sorts United last week for their first success at Old Trafford since 1989 and they moved out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone as a result. Neil’s side travel to Tottenham on Boxing Day and the 34-year-old knows there is still a long way to go if they are going to survive in the League. “It’s pleasing because we have played well in the last few games and maybe not picked up a lot of points so the fact that we played well in that game and picked up three points means a lot to the players,” he said. “It’s not going to mean anything if we don’t kick-on and pick up more results. “There is no point us going to Old Trafford and getting three points from a really difficult venue and then under-performing in the games coming up which are going to be really important to us. “So we are looking to try and build a bit of momentum and I think the players have a good belief they can take into the next few games.” Neil’s side face a Tottenham team who sit in fourth in the table and have only lost one game in the league since September. Neil knows that they are a strong side to compete against but believes his team have what it takes. “They have good players but like everyone they have to perform and that’s the hard part,” he added. “What they have got is they have a good manager who has got them well organised and they believe in what he is trying to do. “I think Tottenham are in a good vein of form, I know they lost against Newcastle but apart from that they have been in good form so we need to try and influence the game as much as we can. “I think this league this season has been unpredictable. “Tottenham have a good settled squad and if they can keep everybody fit they will certainly be near the top come Easter. “I don’t need to remind the players they are capable of winning at Tottenham because they know they are.” last_img read more

Intermediate ladies team face Down in NFL

first_imgShane Ronayne’s side play their first home match of the Division 3 against Down in Ardfinnan.Throw-in is at 3 o’clock – there’ll be regular updates from the game on Tipp FM.last_img

Winning Post: Prohibitionists, government u-turns and parliamentary tittle-tattle

first_img StumbleUpon Regulus Partners kicks off the week by reviewing the much anticipated GRH APPG report released last week, and Parliament’s continued tittle-tattle on reviewing the rules related to online and TV advertising, as debate on UK gambling heats up this summer.  _________________UK: politics – with liberals like these… who needs prohibitionists?It is a cliché of the age that expressions of intolerance are invariably preceded by professions of liberality (“I’m not racist but…” and so on). This week, the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group introduced its long awaited report on online gambling with a denial of prohibitionism… and then proceeded to outline an agenda that – taken literally and in full – would result in the end of licensed gambling as we know it.The APPG’s demands include “a ban on all gambling advertising”. Such a proposal adopted without caveat (none was supplied) could by itself lead to the prohibition of online gambling (the ASA justifiably considers content on gambling websites to be a form of advertising) and the ‘plain packaging’ of licensed venues (no fascia, no promotions inside or out). The National Lottery would be defunct, casinos returned to speak-easies and horse racing consigned to the knacker’s yard.It is unlikely that such severe interpretations were intended by the APPG as a whole (although one or two members might happily dance on the grave of licensed gambling – assuming that they had not also banned dancing in the meantime). For one thing, the group has been financed by elements of the gambling industry, who would face ruin if proposals were implemented in full. A ban on gambling on overdrafts would necessitate the introduction of mandatory tracked play in all seaside arcades, for example. With lobbying like this, who needs enemies?The problems with the report arise from sloppy drafting and a failure to think through the consequences of the measures recommended (neither of which are positive attributes in a body of legislators). This in turn seems to derive from poor attention to detail and a campaigning zeal that has at times tipped over into fanaticism. This is a shame because the group has been hunting in the right areas. The Labour MP, Carolyn Harris who has led the group since its inception deserves recognition for her work in highlighting the depth of gambling harms, inconsistencies in our legislation and negligent behaviour by some licensees.Replete with misrepresentations and basic factual inaccuracies (how many people gamble, growth rates in expenditure etc) the report is easy to criticise; but as we observed on Tuesday, its recommendations should not be dismissed out of hand. At the very least, the APPG has mapped the territory that the forthcoming Government review of gambling legislation will need to cover.That the findings of such an error-strewn report were parroted so faithfully by parliamentarians, press and supposedly independent academic researchers illustrated once again the political and reputational weakness of the gambling industry. This is symptomatic of the gradual decay of key relationships – with Westminster; with the Gambling Commission; with consumer groups; and with large and influential sections of the national media. Gambling does not (as is often said) “need better PR” so much as a sustained process to rebuild trust with stakeholders.It is not clear where Carolyn Harris and chums go from here. They have an opportunity to champion the interests of those harmed through gambling and also of those who are left to pick up the pieces (treatment providers, counselling and advice groups). They can play a role in keeping licensed operators on their toes (something that might even be welcomed by industry if pursued constructively). To achieve this, the group needs to switch tack – to exemplify discipline, factual rigour and the tolerance of liberal democracy. Surely these qualities are not too much to expect from our public servants.UK: in Parliament – crime and punishmentThis was the week that Richard Holden, like so many Tory MPs before him, turned to crime. The Member for North West Durham – perhaps prompted by the recent activities of the Howard League for Penal Reform – submitted a flurry of Parliamentary Questions on the subject of gambling and crime: numbers of arrests; number of people in custody; total amounts stolen and so on.The chances are that the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland may have to ‘take the Fifth’ as the data is not held centrally. The majority of people with a ‘problem gambling’ classification do not commit crimes in order to fund their gambling (it is consistently the lowest endorsed item on the DSM-IV screening instrument and was dropped in the transition to the DSM-5). Of those who do (or state at trial that they do), a small minority become the subjects of Gambling Commission enforcement actions.Holden was also one of three MPs (his fellow Tory Andrew Rosindell and Labour’s Clive Betts being the others) who asked the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden (Cons, Hertsmere) when adult gaming centres would be able to reopen. Arcade operators had been expected to get going again on Monday (along with licensed betting offices) but in a rare departure from the Government’s otherwise flawless handling of the Coronavirus emergency, this appears to have been bungled.Wes Streeting (Lab, Ilford North) asked whether the Government planned to review gambling taxation in order to promote “good public health outcomes”. Sensibly, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Kemi Badenoch (Cons, Saffron Walden) pointed out that it was not the role of tax policy to regulate gambling (and as economist Professor David Forrest has noted, “the evidence [from Great Britain and the US] is virtually unanimous that gambling taxes add to the unfairness of the tax system” by placing the heaviest relative costs on those in the poorest deciles in society).Mrs Badenoch pointed out that the casino sector paid £220m in gaming duty each year and that this was “a fair contribution to public finances”. Given that the true figure (pre-lockdown and including machine games duty and VAT) is likely to be pushing £300m, casino operators may argue that the sector’s contributions are somewhat more than fair; and will hope that this may insulate them from any tax increases when HM Treasury looks to replenish its coffers. Elsewhere, the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson was moved to reassure the Commons that free school meal vouchers would not be accepted as payment in betting shops, casinos, bars or tobacconists.If parliamentary tittle-tattle is true then next week will see the publication of the House of Lords select committee report on the social and economic impacts of gambling; while Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate (Cons) will lead a debate on “reviewing the rules relating to online and television gambling advertising”. It will be interesting to see whether fellow Conservative, Lord Chadlington joins in these discussions.For a number of years, the Tory PR peer was one of the most regular interrogators of Government policy on gambling. However, this ceased suddenly last year at around the same time as he set up his charity, AAGH! (Action Against Gambling Harms) in the hope that it would be a receptacle for the Big Five’s big donation (£100m for treatment over four years from Flutter, Sky Betting & Gaming, GVC, bet365 and William Hill). This week’s announcement that the money will be going to GambleAware and not AAGH! might prompt Chadlington to take up once more the mantel of the inquisitor.______________ Submit Swansea City drops gambling sponsor August 21, 2020 Share Gambling.com maintains momentum against COVID-19 impacts August 19, 2020 Related Articles Winning Post: Swedish regulator pushes back on ‘Storebror’ approach to deposit limits August 24, 2020 Sharelast_img read more

NFL Lied: Roger Goodell Did Get Video of Ray Rice Beating, Police Say

first_imgDespite the NFL’s protestations to the contrary, a law enforcement official said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was indeed sent the video of Rice punching out his then-fiance, Janay Palmer, five months ago in a New Jersey casino elevator.The police official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, also played a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived, according to the Associated Press.The publication said the law enforcement officials played the voicemail tape of a female voice expresses thanks and says: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”The official told the AP that the NFL never bothered to follow up on the tape. We all know what happened next: Ray Rice and his wife were able to persuade Goodell that there was violence from both parties and he gave Rice a two-game suspension, a decision that has been excoriated by females and women’s groups nationwide.The person who secretly told the AP that law enforcement gave the tape to the NFL cannot, however, verify if anyone at the NFL watched the video. He said he wanted to ensure the NFL had the video so that they could factor the video into their decision on a level of punishment for Rice.Obviously that did not work.It’s been a tumultuous, and quite possibly catastrophic, week for Goodell. A group of congressmen fired off a rather accusing letter to Goodell demanding “the highest level of transparency” in how the league investigated the Rice situation. Translation? The congressmen, much like the media and the public, are not buying the story Goodell has proffered saying they could not get their hands on the video of the Rice beat down.As if that wasn’t bad enough for Goodell, the National Organization for Women called for Goodell’s resignation. There is also hashtag #FireGoodell which is now trending on Twitter.However, several NFL team owners released statements, including New York Giants owner John Mara, who reassured Goodell of his job security.last_img read more

Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal Visits The Washington Center On November…

first_imgFacebook3Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by The Washington Center for the Performing ArtsThe Washington Center is extremely excited to bring Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, a European-influenced dance company, to our region to truly reflect the international scope of dance today.An internationally renowned repertory company, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal has continued to grow with all the energy and spirit of exploration for which it has been known since its birth in 1972. BJM works today with some of the most prestigious figures in the world of dance and contemporary ballet. Allowing the full expression of each dancer’s identity is crucial to Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal’s distinctive style. These high level, eclectic artists perfectly represent the company’s spirit. Thanks to their unique personalities and the quality of their performances, they invariably captivate audiences and critics across the world. Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal’s successes stem from an exceptional chemistry where every creation is the result of a unique and energizing meeting between choreographer and dancer.Faced with the tensions and uncertainties in today’s world, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal has chosen to remain faithful to an aesthetic form of dance which can also have an uplifting effect on the soul. This has earned it the title ‘feel good company’, often employed by both the public and the media. Displaying its radiant and expressive style, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal explores the creative side of contemporary trends, yet is still firmly committed to classical aesthetics. Making a conscious effort to remain accessible, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal brings to stage creations which speak to both neophytes and informed audiences.Tickets and more information available at www.washingtoncenter.org or by calling the Box Office at 360-753-8586.last_img read more

Yelm Community Schools Receive $1.25 Million Grant from Department of Defense

first_imgFacebook458Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Yelm Community SchoolsA five-year $1,250,000 grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Partnership will allow Yelm Community Schools to improve learning by increasing technology for students and aligning instructional practices.This project will increase K-12 military, federal-affiliated student achievement in mathematics and increase college and career readiness for all students through professional development of teachers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).“We want all of our students to experience success in math.  The key to that success is that students understand not only how math works, but also how they can use it in their lives,” stated Kendall McNutt, Coordinator of Instruction. “The grant will fund a project that supports a system of math instruction that ensures students really understand mathematics and that they can use their understanding in the real-world.  Our previous DoDEA projects have opened doors for our students, and so we greatly value that partnership.  We are honored that they selected our project.”Students from elementary through high school will benefit from the grant aimed to assist military impacted students with higher achievement in STEM areas. Photo courtesy: Yelm Community SchoolsThe following schools in the district have high percentages of military-connected students: Lackamas, Mill Pond, Prairie, and Southworth elementary schools; Yelm and Ridgeline middle schools; and Yelm High School.  The school district serves students whose parents are assigned to Joint Base Lewis McChord.The goal of this project is to increase student achievement in mathematics and assist students as they transition from elementary school into middle then high school.  “Military students are particularly vulnerable during significant transitions.  The DoDEA grant allows us to increase support for students during these critical transition times, something that can positively impact all students,” according to Kimberly Sullivan, Director of Assessment and Grants.  “While the grant targets increasing military student achievement, all students will benefit from professional development of teachers in STEM content, high-quality instruction, and increased access to technology.”This is the fourth grant Yelm Community Schools has received from the DoDEA Partnership Grant Program, totaling more than $3,000,000 in support for military-connected students, professional development opportunities for teachers, and technology access for all students.last_img read more

Gone But Not Forgotten: FH’s Friendly Turkeys

first_imgFAIR HAVEN — Awhile back, some new neighbors moved in to the area near the Church of the Nativity at Ridge and Hance Road.They were unexpected and maybe unwanted by some.But to others in the neighborhood they were a welcomed addition. And now that they’re gone, not by their own choosing, some miss them — and at lease one area resident worries about them.The unexpected residents who left in January were wild turkeys.Last spring a rafter of seven turkeys appeared in the area. “Next thing we knew we had these large creatures on the property. I don’t know their origins, where they came from,” explained the Rev. Robert J.W. Schecker, pastor of Church of the Nativity Roman Catholic church. “We use to kid about it that they were Judeo-Christian-based,” because they would be across the street at Congregation B’Nai Israel, a Jewish synagogue, and travel across the street to the church’s property.“I thought they were quite interesting, so beautiful,” offered Gentry Drive resident Kathleen M. Hendrick, who described herself as a wildlife lover.One of the larger birds was killed in traffic, and another disappeared somewhere, but the remaining five stayed and appeared to become reliant on the generosity of Schecker and Hendrick. “I don’t know if they knew me or if they knew the voice, or they knew something, but they would see me and I would get the biggest kick out of this,” Schecker said, “they would come running over to the kitchen door and I would feed them.”“They would come and eat and wander off,” Hendrick said of the birds.But there in lies the problem, unfortunately.“It’s never in the best interest for people to feed them,” advised Kim Tinnes, wildlife service technician for the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.By feeding the wild animals “you create an artificial situation,” which can create “a nuisance,” encouraging the animals to remain in an area that may not be the best choice for them, Tinnes said.What happens, quite often, Tinnes explained, is that “You’ll get half the residents who think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread”—the turkeys that is—“and you get the other half that are the ones (complaining that) they’re roosting on the cars, or on the houses, they’re chasing their kids at the bus stops. Those people usually want them gone.”In this case, Tinnes said, she had received calls from local residents complaining about the turkeys. “They were a disruption to some of the neighbors,” she said, but adding “That’s pretty much the norm.”Hendrick said she reached out to Tinnes, concerned about the birds’ future, since they were  accustomed to being around humans and that could put them at risk if they were relocated to a hunting area.“I got to know them,” Hendrick said. “I guess all of us who got to know them sort of domesticated them through no fault of their own.”It’s not unusual for birds to become habituated when fed by people, Tinnes said. But the division’s protocol is to gather them up and relocate them to a wildlife management area, where they will hopefully adapt, she said.Hendrick said she had hoped the birds might be moved to a safer environment. She even contacted the Popcorn Park Zoo, an animal rescue and sanctuary area in Forked River.This week, John Bergman, the zoo’s general manager, said he did speak to Hendrick and Tinnes about taking the birds.“I offered to Fish and Wildlife (that) if they needed us, by all means we would help them out,” he said.But Tinnes said she rejected the offer, “because they would have spent the rest of their life in a cage. Frankly, that’s no life for any wild animal.”“You really want them to have the opportunity to be wild birds,” Tinnes added.The birds were taken to Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, an approximately 5,000-acre area in Upper Freehold Township, Tinnes said.The area is one that does allow hunters, Hendrick said and Tinnes confirmed.But, “That doesn’t mean they’ll have access to these birds,” Tinnes countered. “I let them go on Jan. 4 and those birds may not be there anymore. There’s no fence. They go where they want to go.”Before they were rounded up, one of the turkeys appeared to have hurt his leg, which was an additional concern for Hendrick.“I really miss them,” Schecker admitted, adding that the five turkeys were named by some parishioners, who began calling the large one Mary and the four smaller ones Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Photos of the turkeys made their way on to the church’s website. “I just got a kick out of them,” Schecker said. “They were very friendly.”“It was sad to see them go. But in my heart of hearts, I knew they should,” Hendrik said wistfully. “I just wish we could have gotten them to a safe place.” The Turkeys of Fair Haven (Photo courtesy of Kathy Hendrick)last_img read more

Barcelona 3 Sevilla 0 (5-0 agg): Arda at the double as Barca collect season’s first silverware

first_imgArda Turan gave further encouraging signs he can turn his Barcelona career around with a brace as Luis Enrique’s side eased to a 3-0 win over Sevilla in the Supercopa de Espana second leg at Camp Nou.The Turkey international’s displays came in for regular criticism last season as he failed to find the form that persuaded Barca to prize him from Atletico Madrid.But, playing on the left of a front three due to Neymar’s Olympic excursion, Arda impressed during Sunday’s 2-0 first-leg win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan – laying on the assist for Luis Suarez’s opener.Both teams were much-changed, with a knee injury ruling out Barca captain Andres Iniesta, but Arda remained to confidently open the scoring after 10 minutes.He added a second within a minute of the restart to extinguish any lingering doubt over the destination of the season’s first piece of silverware, while Lionel Messi added gloss with an excellent header.Sevilla begin their first LaLiga season under Jorge Samapoli against Espanyol on Saturday and the former Chile boss will hope these back-to-back losses, along with the extra-time UEFA Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid, have not taken too much out of the tank before a new era begins in earnest.Samuel Umtiti made a debut at centre-back, with Aleix Vidal facing his former club and Lucas Digne named at left back in a reshuffled Barcelona defence that Sevilla sought to take advantage of early on.Joaquin Correa played in Wissam Ben Yedder, who forced Claudio Bravo to save with his feet, and the Barca goalkeeper also reacted sharply to thwart Iborra from the second of two resulting corners.The reportedly Manchester City bound Bravo was left somewhere between concerned and perplexed as the normally reliable Javier Mascherano chipped narrowly over his own crossbar under little pressure but, as in the first leg, Luis Enrique’s men led against the run of play.Messi was the architect, linking with debutant Andre Gomes and clipping the ball into Arda’s path for him to slide an assured finish across Sergio Rico and into the bottom corner.Bravo gave the Camp Nou faithful a dose of what they might soon be missing in the 32nd minute, plunging to his right to keep out an Iborra penalty that lacked conviction after Umtiti was penalised for handling Correa’s shot.With the final attack of the half, Gabriel Mercado looped a diving header against the top of the crossbar to make Barca’s lead seem even more fortuitous.It was an advantage doubled 55 seconds after the restart as first-leg goalscorer Munir El Haddadi harried Rico into a poor clearance that ricocheted to Arda, with a deflection off Mercado sending the ball high into the net.Revelling in his change of fortunes in Barcelona’s famous colours, Arda almost claimed a hat-trick when chipped over from a Messi pass, before a period for Rico to forget continued.Digne’s cross looked to be sailing over Messi but the diminutive forward hung in the air to steer a header back across goal into the corner, where a flailing Rico soon nestled alongside the ball.Barcelona were forced to play out a sedate final 11 minutes with 10 men as Mascherano limped off with all three substitutions used, giving Luis Enrique some cause for concern ahead of Real Betis’ visit on Saturday, although his squad appears to be in smooth working order for their LaLiga defence.last_img read more