Xavi’s Barca held by Benfica in Champions League

Barcelona’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League remaining 16 go all the way in which right down to the last word Group E matchday after an entertaining 0-0 draw in the direction of Benfica on Tuesday.

With Xavi Hernandez taking value of his second recreation since altering Ronald Koeman in the Barca dugout, the Catalan side produced a effectivity a world except for the sorry outfit Benfica observed off 3-0 in Lisbon in September.

A win would have earned Barca qualification alongside Bayern Munich, whom they should now beat on December 8, if Benfica down Dynamo Kiev, to progress.

Ronald Araujo, the Barcelona defender who had a late effort disallowed, suggested uefa.com: “We carried out exactly the game the boss requested us to, pressing extreme up the pitch in particular. All we lacked was the important intention.”

In torrential rain, the Xavi-invigorated hosts had been dripping with newfound depth and tempo.

Only the woodwork denied teenager Yusuf Demir late in the first half.

The winger, on mortgage from Rapid Vienna, curled a shot from contained in the penalty house to beat Odysseas Vlachodimos, nonetheless not the crossbar.

Quick reflexes from the Greek keeper’s reverse amount Marc-Andre ter Stegen had denied Roman Yaremchuk’s close-range header 10 minutes earlier.

In entrance of nearly 50,000 followers braving a wintery night time in Catalonia, Barca emerged for the second interval in dominant mood, nonetheless Benfica held company.

The Portuguese company’ coach Jorge Jesus freshened up his employees on the hour, Darwin Nunez approaching for Yaremchuk and Adel Taarabt for Joao Mario.

Xavi then launched Ousmane Dembele for Demir, the French World Cup winner injecting some late tempo.

On 68 minutes Frenkie de Jong’s header had ‘opening intention’ written all through it, only for Vlachodimos to tip the ball over the bar.

With the clock ticking down, Araujo thought he had delivered the decisive second nonetheless his effort seven minutes from time was dominated offside.

Four minutes of hurt time proved no place for the faint-hearted, as both sides went all out for the winner.

 

And Benfica it was who just about obtained it, Jesus crumpling to his knees after watching Haris Seferovic fluff a terrific chance with solely Ter Stegen to beat.

As it was, the stalemate left Barca in second on seven components, two ahead of Benfica, and their Champions League fortunes resting on a final result in Munich in two weeks’ time.

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