Barcelona 2-0 Sporting Lisbon

Match Report

Barcelona ended their Champions League Group D campaign with a 2-0 win against Sporting Lisbon at Camp Nou.

Barca were guaranteed top spot in the group ahead of the last-16 draw so it was no surprise to see boss Ernesto Valverde make eight changes, including leaving talisman Lionel Messi on the bench.

Sporting needed to better Juventus’ result to have any chance of joining Barca in the draw for the first knockout stage, but never really looked like picking up the win.

Indeed it was a fairly lacklustre affair with Paco Alcacer’s goal just before the hour and a Jeremy Mathieu own goal in stoppage time just two of a few opportunities for either side throughout the 90 minutes.

As it happened Juve won against Olympiakos so Sporting could not have progressed even if they had won and will have to settle for the Europa League in the New Year.

Barca made most of the early running, but it was Sporting who had the first effort of any note on 16 minutes when Bruno Fernandes tried his luck from distance but Jasper Cillessen made the save.

Despite that attempt, it was Barca who stepped up another gear and they went very close to taking the lead on 24 minutes when Luis Suarez collected a Thomas Vermaelen pass before turning Sebastian Coates and progressed into the area only for Rui Patricio to race off his line to deny him with a fine save.

Sporting had the first chance after the interval when substitute Gelson Martins chest down a Bruno Fernandes pass and surged into the area before slashing at his shot and sent it wide of Cillessen’s upright.

However, Barca took the lead on 59 minutes when, moments after Luis Suarez hit a tame free-kick into the defensive wall, Alcacer got up at the near post to head a Denis Suarez corner past Patricio.

Sporting’s other half-time substitute Bas Dost should have levelled just three minutes later when a Fernandes cross fell to him inside the area, but he failed to beat Cillessen from just six yards.

Messi came off the bench moments later and looked to wrap up the win on 74 minutes when he created an opening on the edge of the area only to uncharacteristically slice his effort well wide.

Messi went even closer to making it 2-0 on 82 minutes when he looked to curl the ball into the bottom corner from distance only for Patricio to deny him with a good save.

Alcacer almost added his and Barca’s second on 89 minutes when he was played into the area by Messi but his effort was deflected just wide.

The win was sealed in injury time when Mathieu could only put a Denis Suarez cross into his own net with Alcacer waiting in the wings to convert had he not tried to intervene.