Lacklustre Barcelona need own-goal to edge past Sporting
Estadio Jose Alvalade, Champions League Group D – Sporting Lisbon 0 Barcelona 1 (Coates OG 49)
Barcelona needed an own-goal to edge past Sporting Lisbon as the Liga giants made it two wins out of two in Group D.
The hosts had been fairly comfortable in the game, limiting their illustrious opponents to only half-chances, until Sebastian Coates turned Lionel Messi’s teasing free-kick delivery into his own net just after the restart.
It was a hugely disappointing way for Sporting to concede as the defence, led by former Barca defender Jeremy Mahieu, had hardly given Luis Suarez and Messi - still searching for his 100th European goal - an inch, but it proved to be the winning goal in a scrappy game.
Bruno Fernandez was presented with a wonderful opportunity to salvage a draw for the hosts but his powerful half-volley was well blocked by Marc-Andre ter Stegen as Barcelona held on for the three points.
Lady Luck shines on Barca, again: Valverde’s side needed two own-goals to grind down Girona in LaLiga at the weekend, and they needed another slice of good fortune in Portugal to find their way past a resilient Sporting defence.
Barcelona may now have won eight consecutive games, but the form of Suarez is a real concern for the Catalans. The Uruguayan hasn’t looked quite right this season, netting only twice in seven games. Perhaps he was rushed back from injury too quickly or, more likely, he is struggling without the creativity of Neymar.
Barcelona’s Luis Suarez with referee Ovidiu Hategan during the match against SportingReuters
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jeremy Mahieu (Sporting Lisbon) - Played like he had a point to prove against his former club as he dealt with almost everything Barcelona's deadly duo had to throw at him. Deserved to keep a clean-sheet.
28’ - SUAREZ CHANCE! Sergi Roberto slides through Suarez and the Uruguayan tries to beat the goalkeeper at his near post but Patricio is down to make the block.
42’ – GOOD DEFENDING! Messi is slipped through inside the box, he looks certain to score but Coentrao does brilliantly to get across and make a crucial block!
49’ - AN OWN-GOAL GIVES BARCA THE LEAD! Messi's teasing cross is nodded on by Suarez, but the final touch is off Coates' chest and the ball is bundled over the line.
70’ - TER STEGEN MAKES A GREAT SAVE! This is Sporting's big chance... Dos lines up Fernandez for a shot inside the area after a mistake by Sergi Roberto, but he can only fire it straight at the Barcelona goalkeeper who does well to push it away from goal.
85’ - PATRICIO DENIES PAULINHO! A huge let off for the hosts as they concede the ball inside their own half, Paulinho is released but Patricio makes himself big to block the shot.
Sporting - FC BarcelonaEurosport
- Sporting have never won their opening two games of a Champions League campaign.
- Sporting have kept only one clean sheet in their last 16 Champions League games.
- Barcelona have won 15 of their last 18 Champions League group games (D2 L1). They have also scored in 45 of their last 46 group games.