Defending Spanish La Liga champions Barcelona survived a scare on Matchday 5 of Group H in the UEFA Champions League last night, after they were down 1-0 against last season’s Portuguese Primeira Liga’s runners-up FC Porto. Fortunately to the Catalan Giants, they impressively fought back versus the Portuguese side in the remainder of the match, winning the game with a comeback score line of 2-1 at the final whistle, and with that all-important victory, Xavi’s Barcelona are safely through to the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League this season.
Both Joãos Mounted a Comeback Win for Barcelona
Barcelona succumbed to an early conceded goal to FC Porto in this Champions League fixture, when 26-year-old Brazilian winger Pepê found the back of the net around the half hour mark. The Foz do Iguaçu-born footballer netted his first goal in 2023/2024 thanks to a counterattack by the visitors, where several shots were fired at Iñaki Peña Sotorres, before it landed perfectly for Pepê to break the deadlock against Barcelona.
On the other hand, almost exactly 120 records later, the home team Barcelona levelled things up with their Portuguese loanee from Manchester City João Cancelo. The wing-back received the ball around the left flank, followed by a superb beating over a FC Porto defender and a beautiful strike that ended in the far post. The goal was the 29-year-old third for his new club, since signing for them on loan last summer transfer window.
Another Portuguese loane who named João, Félix, would go on to win the game for Barcelona 13 minutes after the restart in the second 45 minutes. The forward on loan from Atlético Madrid had to thank his older compatriot Cancelo for the goal, when he won a header off a long ball and fed Félix with a pass, followed by the striker’s one-two play with his national teammate for Barcelona’s second goal of the game, giving the home team their fourth victory in five games in the group phase of this season’s UEFA Champions League as a result.
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The Catalan Giants Qualified for the Last 16 of the Champions League with Four Wins in Five Games
With the 2-1 come-from-behind victory against FC Porto, Barcelona made it to the knockout round of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2020/2021 Season, where eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi last played for his boyhood club before his transfer to French Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain in the following year; FC Porto are levelled on points with FC Shakhtar Donetsk at 9 each, and only one team from these two will qualify to the knockout round since they will be meeting one another in the final game of the group stage.
Xavi’s Barcelona are joined by fellow Spanish La Liga side Real Madrid, Real Sociedad and Atlético Madrid in the following phase of the top-tiered European club football competition, with Sevilla FC being the only Spanish outfit yet to book their places in the Last 16, having only collected a mere 2 points over four Matchdays thus far. The seven-time UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League winners will face PSV at home tonight.
Elsewhere in the Champions League, Borussia Dortmund became the first team from the Group of Death to qualify for the next round of the competition, following their 3-1 win over AC Milan last night. This article has all the information you need about that crucial victory for Dortmund, check it out now!
Xavi: “[Much Needed Win] After Two Years of Europa League Football.”
Xavi, head coach of Barcelona, had this to say during the post-match conference: “We’re very happy, for both the team and club. We needed it after two years of Europa League football. We did it against a very, very good side, and we reacted well against them. It looked dark when they went ahead, but we did well and I think we deserved to win. We had to look behind their press and not go back to the goalkeeper. There are always solutions and we found them well.”
The Barcelona midfield legend pointed out Iñaki Peña’s performance, who replaced Marc-André ter Stegen in goal, was instrumental to his team’s victory. “Iñaki Peña did extremely well today. It was a big stage, against a strong opponent and it’s no surprise, he trains well every time, Félix needed the goal, it was important for him, but I think the result could have been even bigger because we had to put away more chances. Today is a day to celebrate, we’re through to the next round.”
Cancelo, the Match of the Match for Barcelona with a goal and an assist, also spoke about the important win over FC Porto last night, saying “It was a final, we won, which is the most important thing and the team are through, where they deserve to be. When results don’t come, the confidence isn’t the same. It seems like everything’s bad, but it’s not like that. We have a fantastic group and we deserved this. I feel good playing on either side, and in the middle. I just want to achieve the objective, which is to win. Balde is a great player, and he deserves to play as well”.