Barça again heading Inter the UEL
Barcelona’s faint hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League (UCL) knockout stages remain intact thanks to a 3-3 draw against Inter Milan, though with their fate out of their hands and Inter still to face Viktoria Plzeň at home, it still looks as though the UEFA Europa League awaits them once again.
Effectively needing a victory here to keep their hopes of a UCL knockout spot alive, Barcelona started like a house on fire. Unsurprisingly, Robert Lewandowski was in the thick of the action, and when his header left André Onana stranded, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was on hand to thunder the ball off the line and away to safety. It was then Inter’s turn to try their luck in what was fast-becoming an enthralling game of football, but the Camp Nou crossbar ensured that Edin Džeko’s effort stayed out.
Barça had been increasingly pushing to find an opener as the first half wore on, and the Catalans found it five minutes before the break. Sergi Roberto worked his way to the byline, and as he flashed a ball across the six-yard box, Ousmane Dembélé was on hand to slam home from close-range and lift the roof off the famed footballing arena. The roof was firmly back on shortly after the break though, as a defensive blunder from Gerard Piqué allowed the ball to drift over his head and find Nicolò Barella, who slammed home to silence the Camp Nou.
Incredibly, despite being on the back foot for most of the game, it was Inter who snatched the third goal of the evening in smash-and-grab circumstances. Lautaro Martínez collected Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s pass, held off Eric García and thundered home an effort that hit both posts on its way in to leave Barça staring down the barrel of elimination. Step forward Lewandowski, to rescue Barcelona with his 90th UCL goal. Quickest to react to a loose ball in the box, the Polish international slammed home an equaliser to set up a grandstand finish.
Barça pressure was incessant in the closing stages, but an apparent winner seemingly fell the way of the visitors, who struck on the break a minute from time through Robin Gosens to seal what they thought was their safe passage to the UCL knockout stages, only for Lewandowski to again pop up and level the scores in stoppage time. But even with that equaliser, Barça still look set for a second consecutive absence from the UCL knockouts for the first time since 1998/99.