- Group H Results & Standings
The Portuguese connection of the two Joaos, Cancelo and Felix, revived Barcelona against Porto. The theoretical full-back, the most incisive in attack of the Barça players while the gas lasted, was in charge, first of all, of putting the equalizer on the scoreboard after the visitors took the lead. And, in the second half, he also gave the ball on a platter to the former Rojiblanco to put the Blaugrana ahead. An extremely hard-fought victory that allows them to seal their long-awaited passage to the knockout stages of the Champions League and, almost certainly, also secure first place in their group. [Narration & Stats (2-1)]
Barça took to the pitch in a nervous wreckage. Shakhtar's win over Antwerp forced more than ever to seal the victory and, as much as Xavi accumulated talent in the midfield and took risks with a three-man defence, with Cancelo playing as a left winger, the Barça were unable to come out clearly from the back or bring real danger to Porto's area. discounting the odd ball.
The Portuguese team smelled blood. That's why, without haste, he opted to make the locals uncomfortable and wait, crouching, for his opportunity. At the first attempt, he saw his goal disallowed for offside. On the second try, on the other hand, he achieved his goal, taking advantage of a new mismatch in the defensive tasks of the Barça players.
Pepé, when the match was about to complete its first half hour of play, caught a rebound from Iñaki Peña to score the 0-1 and throw ice water on Barça. But, as Xavi admits, the urgency spurs his team's reaction. And Cancelo, surely the most insistent of the Barça attackers, was in charge of putting the equalizer in the luminous almost after the throw-in.
The Portuguese, with a brilliant individual action after an assist from Pedri and getting rid of the attempt of two defenders to stop his advance, finally smashed the ball into the net. The 1-1 draw revived the home side. So much so, that they increased their harassment of the rival goal and were about to take a 2-1 lead at half-time. In fairness, the 1-2 could also have fallen. The Barça goalkeeper, with a plastic intervention to Varela's shot, was in charge of preventing it.
Barça, once again, took to the pitch much more plugged in after the break. Joao Félix, at the start of the second half, sent a first warning against the crossbar and, almost immediately, had the opportunity to put his team ahead after an assist from Cancelo. Porto, however, far from being intimidated, also had a clear chance to rub salt in Barça's wounds in an action in which Araujo, who else, put everything on the line to prevent the ball from going between the posts and even scratched a foul in favour of his team.
On the third try, on the other hand, the charm did come for the former red and white. With Cancelo, of course, as an assistant. Joao Felix, with that goal, also exorcised some demons that had been haunting him since September. The 2-1, of course, calmed Barça. So much so, that he began to hover around the third of the evening with as much insistence as little aim to end up adding his long-awaited victory.
- FC Barcelona
- Xavi Hernandez
- Ronald Araújo
- Joao Felix
- Robert Lewandowski