Barcelona and Porto played for the top spot in the Champions League Group H on Tuesday. The Blaugranas won the game after the score was turned around to 2-1, ironically with goals from the Portuguese players. At the same time, they secured their participation in the knockout phase of the millionaire competition for the first time since the 2020/2021 season.
Barça was missing two big mainstays in the line-up. Marc-André ter Stegen did not play due to back problems, and Iñaki Peña stood in for him. Midfielder Gavi, who injured his knee while playing for the national team, has already undergone surgery.
The home side entered the match at the Olympic Stadium in Montjuïc quite actively. In the eighth minute, Raphinha sent in a fierce cross, but Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa dealt with it. Ten minutes later, stopper Pepe Félix’s attempt from an angle was cleared into the side netting.
Otherwise, however, it was not a significant onslaught from Xavi’s team, with Sérgio Conceição’s charges also working out their offensive options. In the 26th minute they even enjoyed a goal, but not for long. Taremi was offside.
Another warning for the Barcelona defence came three minutes later when Peña had to intervene against Galen’s shot. He also saved the same player at the end of the opening half-hour, only to come up short on Brazilian striker Pepê’s finish.
The Portuguese team enjoyed the lead for only two minutes, as a Portuguese player in the Catalan club’s jersey, namely João Cancelo, equalised with a neat shot to make it 1-1. Another Portuguese player, João Félix of the Blaugranas, could have turned the game around in the 35th minute, but he shot over the bar from a promising position in the penalty area.
The reigning Spanish champions then almost punished the Dragons for their mistakes in the 42nd minute. However, Raphinha shot just wide of the right post. The score remained unchanged until half-time.
Only a few seconds after the second half kick-off, the active Félix came close to scoring again, hitting the crossbar. Two minutes later, after a pass from Cancel, he finished next to the visiting goal. And Cancelo had another shot not long after, forcing Costa to intervene.
The visitors continued their attacking efforts, but in the 57th minute, they scored. It was João Félix who, after a quick action and an assist from Cancelo, sent the ball out of the goalkeeper’s reach to put Barcelona 2-1 up.
In the 64th minute, Lewandowski, his not very visible teammate, got a header but missed the target. With ten minutes to go, interesting situations took place in both areas. First, Peña dealt with a nasty snarl in his own territory and Raphinha and Cancelo missed good opportunities from the counter-attack.
The home side didn’t resort to simply defending their narrow lead at the end and instead kept attacking themselves. They did not add another goal, but it did not change the result and the certainty of their progress. Porto will face Shakhtar Donetsk for the second place in the Champions League semi-finals.
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