Barcelona struggle but get the job done without their talisman

Barcelona battled back from a goal down and scored twice in the second half to beat hosts Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 in their Champions League Group C match on Wednesday despite the absence of the injured Lionel Messi.

Second-half goals from the substitute Arda Turan and Gerard Piqué gave the Spaniards their second win in two group matches to top the standings, after their opening 7-0 demolition of Celtic.

The hard-working Bundesliga side had taken a surprising lead, scoring against the run of play, with Thorgan Hazard slotting in to complete a quick break in the 34th minute.

barcelona-struggle-vs-monchengladbach
(Source:mirror.co.uk)

Barcelona, who had Messi missing with a groin injury, dominated the game but were made to work hard for their second group win that put them on six points.

The hosts have zero, having lost both matches so far and ended an 11-match winning streak at home in all competitions. Manchester City drew with Celtic 3-3 in the other group game to stay second on four points.

The Barça coach Luis Enrique started with Andrés Iniesta, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic, all of whom were rested in the 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Gijon at the weekend.

Despite the absence of Messi, replaced by youngster Paco Alcácer, it was Barcelona who stamped their authority on the game early on and carved out the first chance with Neymar’s shot from inside the box saved by keeper Yann Sommer after seven minutes.

Luis Suárez should have put them ahead three minutes later when he pounced on a defensive error but he saw his powerful left-footed shot sail narrowly wide.

The Uruguayan was also the recipient of a brilliant defence-splitting pass from Neymar but instead of rifling the ball home he tried a cutback to Alcácer that was cleared.

Neymar in action (Source:mirror.co.uk)
Neymar in action (Source:mirror.co.uk)

Gladbach gradually grew in confidence but struggled to get past a Spanish wall when they tried to venture forward.

They scored when forward Raffael, back from injury, gained possession in midfield and launched a quick break with Hazard tapping in from a Mahmoud Dahoud pass.

The Brazilian’s injury in the 48th minute and his substitution took out most of the Gladbach pace.

The introduction of Turan on the hour brought instant results for Barcelona, with the Turkey international picking up a Neymar pass in the 65th minute and drilling the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

Piqué then pounced on a weak clearance by Sommer from a Suárez shot to tap in from close range and hand Barcelona a hard-fought victory.

Abhishek Das

Abhishek Das

A die hard football fan since the days of Ronaldinho. Also a Civil Engineer and avid reader of books. Has a passion for writing and is a columnist for Barcablog, Weloba and Grup14 websites.
Abhishek Das

Profile photo of Abhishek Das

Abhishek Das

A die hard football fan since the days of Ronaldinho. Also a Civil Engineer and avid reader of books. Has a passion for writing and is a columnist for Barcablog, Weloba and Grup14 websites.

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