Barcelona secured a 2-0 win against Vissel Kobe on Saturday to lift the Rakuten Cup in their last pre-season match in Japan.
Three former Barcelona players were in action for Vissel Kobe and it was Andrés Iniesta who came closest to breaking the deadlock when a long-range effort flew past Marc-André ter Stegen's far post, while Riqui Puig wasted a golden chance for the visitors at the other end of the pitch.
Iniesta came close once again in the latter stages of the first half, while goalkeeper Daiya Maekawa was forced into a good save to deny Ivan Rakitić a late goal, but in the end, an overall lethargic first-half came to a close with both sides still on level terms.
Substitute Ousmane Dembélé offered an exciting spark to Barcelona's attack in the second half and it looked like the Frenchman could provide the difference, but it was actually academy graduate Carles Pérez who opened the scoring after some neat link-up play with Malcom.
Carles Aleñá could have put the game to bed but tried to be too cute with his dinked effort and it was easily clawed away by Maekawa, while Malcom wasn't cute enough when he went for power over placement only to be denied by the crossbar.
Pérez then scored his second of the game with just a few minutes left on the clock, firing the ball in off the post from an acute angle to wrap up the win and secure the Rakuten Cup against Vissel Kobe.
Starting XI: Maekawa (7); Fujitani (6), Dankler (7), Miya (6), Hatsuse (7); Yamaguchi (6), Samper (5), Iniesta (8); Goke (6), Villa (6), Ogawa (6).
Substitutes: Nishi (6), Wellington (6), Watanabe (6), Osaki (6), Hashimoto (6), Masuyama (6), Nakasaka (6), Yasui (6), Tanaka (6).
Key Talking Point
It felt like nothing more than a glorified training exercise throughout the first half, with Barcelona's attack only lacking any real cutting edge against Vissel Kobe's defence.
But the introduction of Malcom, Ousmane Dembélé and crucially Carles Pérez turned the game on its head, even though goals still hardly went flying in for the Blaugrana.
Ditching a first-half line-up that consisted almost exclusively of attacking midfielders being used out wide - Álex Collado and Rafinha were their makeshift wingers - Barcelona offered a much more consistent threat after the break.
Starting XI: Ter Stegen (6); Semedo (7), Araujo (6), Lenglet (6), Alba (6); Puig (7), Busquets (6), Rakitic (7); Rafinha (6), Griezmann (7), Collado (7).
Substitutes: Perez (9*), Dembele (8), Malcom (7), Roberto (7), Umtiti (6), Todibo (7), Jaime (6), Alena (7), de Jong (8), Monchu (6), Neto (6).
Star Man - Carles Pérez
It could have been any of Barcelona's front three during the second half, as both Malcom and Ousmane Dembélé caused Vissel Kobe countless problems after the break.
But it was Carles Pérez's stunning strike which ultimately proved to be the difference for Ernesto Valverde's side, popping up with a bit of individual quality while the rest of his teammates just weren't getting the rub of the green in front of goal.
Im saying it again, Carles Pérez needs to play some games for the first team— Atharva (@Athsonfire) July 27, 2019
Carles Perez another forward who’s better than Coutinho...— Juan (@socraticjuan) July 27, 2019
What a goal Carles Perez!— Frenkie Chief 🇳🇱 (@FrenkieStats) July 27, 2019
Nice play, good finish from Carles Perez— Hafed ⚽️ (@TheRealHaffy) July 27, 2019
Carles Pérez > Coutinho— デライ (@D_Shiryu13) July 27, 2019
He's only ever made one senior appearance for Barcelona throughout his career, but the 21-year-old could certainly leave his mark on the first-team this season if he continues to perform at the level he showed in Japan.