With a hard-fought 2-1 victory over a weakened Dynamo Kiev, Barcelona made it three wins out of three in Champions League Group G.
As Ronald Koeman’s side saw off stubborn opponents Dynamo Kiev 2-1 in Wednesday’s thrilling Champions League clash, Lionel Messi marked his 150th European appearance for Barcelona with a goal.
For the third Group G match running, the superstar forward scored from the penalty spot and Gerard Pique added a second, but only after a number of frights had been given to Barca.
A handful of top-class saves were made by returning goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the best of the lot to keep out the free header of Vitaliy Buyalskiy in the first half, while Tomasz Kedziora had a goal ruled out.
FULL TIME pic.twitter.com/B3UiAc96Qu
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 4, 2020
Because of a coronavirus outbreak in the camp, Dynamo called a weakened squad and forced their opponents all the way thanks to the strike of Viktor Tsygankov 15 minutes from time, though Barca held on to make it nine points out of nine.
Early on, Denys Popov tripped Messi in the box and the Argentina international tucked the spot-kick into the bottom-right corner away from Ruslan Neshcheret.
After being picked out by Sergino Dest, Pedri hit the underside of the crossbar and Antoine Griezmann fired wide from six yards as Barca looked for a quick-fire second.
Before half-time, Neshcheret made just his second senior appearance and held out a few attempts from Messi, either side of Ter Stegen ‘s reaction stop to deny Buyalskiy.
Early in the second half, Barcelona got a couple of warnings as Ter Stegen was equal to Tsygankov from one-on-one and the headed goal of Kedziora was chalked off as a corner had curved out of play.
Shortly before Neshcheret tipped over Messi’s free-kick from the best of his saves in what turned out to be a battle of the keepers, Vladyslav Supriaha was the next to be thwarted by Ter Stegen.
When guiding Ansu Fati ‘s cross into the back of the net, Pique thought he had finally killed Dynamo, only for Tsygankov to tap in at the other end after Benjamin Verbic’s saved shot had rolled into his direction.
However, with the Catalan giants handling the remainder of the game well for all but reserving a place in the last 16 of the tournament, the visitors could not find a late leveler.
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This is a game that will be remembered very much for both keepers’ performances-Ter Stegen making six saves to Neshcheret’s 11.
Indebted to Ter Stegen, Barca holds a three-point advantage over Juventus-4-1 winners in Budapest on Wednesday over Ferencvaros-while Dynamo is eight points worse off at the halfway point in seventh.
As the competition moved to three points for a victory, Koeman’s men may have made their joint-worst start to a LaLiga season, but they have a perfect record in Europe and must now pass that form to their flagging domestic campaign.
Return of Ter Stegen
In Ter Stegen ‘s absence this term, Barca was unstable, with stand-in Neto clearly not having the same calming influence at the back, as illustrated by his mistake last time out in the 1-1 draw with Alaves.
This display shows why many rank the German as the planet’s best number one, and yet he was probably not even the best goalkeeper today on the field — Neshcheret, just 18 years of age, claiming that distinction on a day to remember.
Sitter for Griezmann
Dynamo gave Barcelona a real scare, but it would certainly have been an entirely different game had Griezmann converted his easy chance shortly after Messi’s opener from six yards.
The French international struggled to get involved in the game despite being fielded through the centre, managing just 22 touches of the ball before being removed after an hour-the least of any outfield player up to that stage.
And what is next?
In their final LaLiga outing before the international break on Saturday, Barcelona host Real Betis, while Dynamo take on Shakhtar Donetsk in a top-of-the-table game in the Ukrainian Premier League the following day.