Wednesday 21 November 2018

Barca cruise into knockout stages

Barcelona’s Paco Alcacer celebrates scoring his side's first goal with Andre Gomes. Photo: Reuters
Barcelona’s Paco Alcacer celebrates scoring his side's first goal with Andre Gomes. Photo: Reuters

Barcelona completed their Group D campaign with a 2-0 win over Sporting Lisbon at the Nou Camp.

With the La Liga leaders already qualified as group winners and a testing trip to Villarreal ahead on Sunday, coach Ernesto Valverde made wholesale changes as talisman Lionel Messi started on the bench.

After a lacklustre first half, Barcelona broke the deadlock after 59 minutes when Paco Alcacer headed in from a corner and former Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu netted an own goal in stoppage time, which left Sporting having to be content with a Europa League spot after finishing behind Juventus.

The Italian champions secured their place in the last 16 with a 2-0 victory against Olympiacos in Greece.

Juan Cuadrado settled any Italian nerves after 15 minutes and substitute Federico Bernardeschi sealed matters with a fine strike in the final moments.

Meanwhile, France midfielder Corentin Tolisso scored twice to earn Bayern Munich victory but Paris Saint-Germain advance to the last-16 draw as Group B winners.

Bayern needed to win by four goals to finish above PSG and they got off to a fine start with Robert Lewandowski's close-range finish after eight minutes.

Tolisso's header doubled the lead before Kylian Mbappe made it 2-1.Tolisso added a third for Bayern, who advance as runners-up. Both teams end on 15 points, but PSG's head-to-head record ensured they finished top.

The German champions will be unseeded when the draw for the knockout stage takes place next Monday.

With Chelsea drawing 1-1 against Atletico last night, Roma needed Diego Perotta's 53rd-minute header to get past Azerbaijani side Qarabag to book their place in the last 16 as group winners.

Irish Independent

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