Saturday 24 August 2019

Hit-and-miss Barca do enough to advance

Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Photo: Getty
Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Photo: Getty

Lionel Messi started on the bench as Barcelona secured their passage into the last 16 of the Champions League with a 0-0 draw at Juventus.

The Argentina playmaker was a surprise omission from the starting line-up in Turin but he still went close to breaking the deadlock with a free-kick shortly after coming on as a substitute.

Barca knew a point would be enough to see them through and rarely threatened to end Juve's 25-match unbeaten home run in Europe.

Juve's Douglas Costa had the first chance of the game after two minutes, making space in the area before forcing Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to save at his near post. Ter Stegen then dived to his left to block Paulo Dybala's effort.

Serbian referee Milorad Mazic had a big decision to make on the half-hour mark when Barca's Paulinho stepped past Miralem Pjanic and crashed to the ground in the area. Any contact certainly looked minimal and Mazic duly showed the midfielder a yetllow card for simulation.

Suarez was largely missing in action and Ernesto Valverde threw on Messi who sent a -second-half free over the bar. The didn't get much closer.

Antoine Griezmann's stunning goal kept Atletico Madrid's Champions League hopes alive as they grabbed a vital victory over Roma.

The France star's wonderful overhead kick inspired 2-0 win, with Kevin Gameiro adding a late second after Bruno Peres was sent off for Roma.

Roma remain in the driving seat though as they sit second, two points ahead of Atletico.

The Italians face Qarabag at home in the final game while Atletico head to Chelsea, who made sure of their last-16 place with a 4-0 win in Azerbaijan earlier in the day.

Irish Independent

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