Porto Vs Barcelona: Match Review – Barcelona’s Triumph in Portugal: A Gruelling Victory
Porto Vs Barcelona: Match Review: In their second UEFA Champions League match of the season, Barcelona embarked on a challenging journey to Portugal. Facing off against Porto on a Wednesday night, they encountered perhaps their toughest fixture of the group stage. The 90 minutes that unfolded were nothing short of gruelling.
New Defensive Pairing and Lineup
On this fateful night, Xavi Hernandez decided to unveil the much-anticipated central defensive partnership of Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo. Alejandro Balde and Joao Cancelo held the fort as left-back and right-back, respectively.
In the midfield, Oriol Romeu joined forces with Gavi and Ilkay Gundogan. Leading the attacking charge, Robert Lewandowski teamed up with Joao Felix and Lamine Yamal.
Barcelona’s Strong Start
The action kicked off at Estadio do Dragao, with Barcelona enjoying a more impressive start to the game. Joao Felix even had an early shot on goal, showing the Catalans’ intent.
However, after a dominant initial 15 minutes by Xavi’s side, Porto gradually found their rhythm. By the 20th minute, they began to exert serious pressure on Barcelona and even came close to winning a penalty.
Pepe and Mehdi Taremi tried to connect inside the Barcelona box when the latter went down under Kounde’s challenge. Despite appeals, the on-field referee refused to award a penalty, a decision upheld after a VAR review.
Barcelona’s First Real Chance
Barcelona’s first real chance of the game arrived midway through the first half when Felix’s well-executed shot was expertly tipped over the crossbar by the alert Diogo Costa. Minutes later, Felix had another golden opportunity but couldn’t capitalize.
Lewandowski’s Injury and Substitution
A major setback hit Barcelona when Robert Lewandowski fell victim to a harsh tackle by Carmo. Despite his efforts, the Polish striker couldn’t continue, and Xavi replaced him with Ferran Torres just past the half-hour mark.
Porto and Barcelona continued to battle for possession and dominance. Both sides had their moments, but neither could convert their chances into goals.
Eventually, Barcelona secured a late first-half lead thanks to Gundogan’s sharp interception. The German international seized upon a sloppy pass by Romario Baro and found Ferran Torres, who calmly dispatched the ball in a 1v1 situation.
As halftime approached, Barcelona held a deserved 1-0 lead. However, it was evident that Xavi’s men were not at their best in the final third.
Porto’s Second-Half Efforts
The second half began with Porto launching an inspired attack that created a fantastic opportunity for Joao Mario. Nevertheless, by the 50th minute, Barcelona had regained control and restored balance to the game.
Chances continued to flow down Porto’s left wing as they struggled to find an equalizer. Marc-Andre ter Stegen was forced into action, making crucial saves after the hour mark.
Substitutions were made, with Sergi Roberto and Fermin Lopez coming on for Oriol Romeu and Joao Felix, respectively.
In the 77th minute, Porto won a penalty after a brilliant run by Eustaquio ended with the ball striking Joao Cancelo’s arm. VAR reviewed the incident and ruled out the penalty for a handball by a Porto player in the buildup, causing frustration for the home team.
Late Drama and Unfulfilled Dreams
Despite their efforts and attacking transitions, Porto couldn’t find the elusive goal, even having Taremi’s spectacular overhead finish ruled out for offside in the dying minutes.
Gavi received a second yellow card in stoppage time, resulting in his dismissal and making him ineligible for the next match against Shakhtar Donetsk.
In the end, Barcelona held on to a narrow 1-0 lead until the final whistle. With this hard-fought victory, they claimed the top spot in Group H, accumulating six points from two matches.
While the hosts may feel hard done by the result, Xavi’s side welcomed all three points with open arms, acknowledging the challenges they overcame in this intense encounter.