Jeremy Mathieu nets own goal on return to Nou Camp as Barcelona beat Sporting
Champions League Group D, Camp Nou - Barcelona 2 (Alcacer 59, Mathieu og 90+1) Sporting 0
Jeremy Mathieu scored an own goal at his old stomping ground as Barcelona laboured to a 2-0 victory over Sporting in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Ernesto Valverde’s side had already guaranteed top spot in Group D, though Sporting went into the game knowing victory at the Nou Camp – coupled with Juventus failing to beat Olympiakos – would see them also reach the last 16.
However, while Juventus ran out 2-0 winners in Greece, Sporting succumbed to the same scoreline, with Paco Alcacer heading in from a corner before Mathieu’s own goal in added time.
Sporting do have the Europa League to look forward to, while Barcelona will turn their attention to the knockouts after going unbeaten in the group stages for an 11th time.
No Messi, no party…
Until the Argentine came on, that is. For the first hour, Barcelona were flat and it was an uninspiring display against a Sporting side who always knew their hopes of qualification were slim. Even the sight of Messi warming up after half-time woke up the crowd, and although Alcacer’s header came moments before the forward came on, his arrival onto the Nou Camp turf undoubtedly lifted the hosts, who improved drastically after his introduction.
Before his much-needed arrival...Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Lionel Messi – For all the above reasons. He only featured for the final 30 minutes, but that third was infinitely better than the opening hour, and it was all of the Argentine’s orchestrating.
Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi enters the pitch during the UEFA Champions League football match FC Barcelona vs Sporting CP at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 5, 2017.Getty Images
Luis Suarez of Barcelona shoots as Rui Patricio of Sporting Lisbon savesGetty Images
21’ - JUST WIDE! Sporting are living dangerously here and not helping themselves at times. Carvalho is sloppy in possession and Andre Gomes nips in before flashing a low effort narrowly wide of the near post.
25’ - GOOD SAVE! That's the Suarez we all know and (some of us) love. From nothing he just ghosts past his man but from a narrow angle Rui Patricio sticks out his leg to make a smart stop.
59’ - GOAL! Alcacer heads in from a corner! To be frank, he has done nothing all night, but Paco Alcacer is there at the near post to glance a header across goal into the far corner.
63 - WHAT A SAVE! From six yards out Dost volleys from a cross but Cillessen manages to keep it out. Funny moment as he goes on to hug Cillessen from behind, in a sort of, 'How could you keep that out' - but he should have done better!
82’ - QUALITY SAVE! Messi turns with the ball and looks to bend the ball inside the post, but Patricio gets down with a strong hand to make the save.
90+1' - OWN GOAL! From Mathieu of all people! Poor Jeremy, he turns it into his own net in his old stomping ground. The crowd are singing his name! You have to feel sorry for him - if he didn't tuck it away from Denis Suarez's cross, Alcacer certainly would have.