Barcelona returns to the Champions League eighth finals after three years, Van Bommel loses

João Cancelo celebrates the equalizer

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FC Barcelona won 2-1 against FC Porto in the Champions League, meaning that the Catalan team has qualified for the round of 16 for the first time in three years. Frenkie de Jong started in the starting line-up, he returned last weekend after two months of injuries.

The victory puts Barcelona on twelve points, Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto on nine points. In the last match, they will fight in a mutual duel to see who will go with Barcelona to the eighth finals.

Porto surprisingly had the upper hand from the start at the Estadi Montjuïc, where Barcelona will play this season during the renovation of its permanent home stadium Camp Nou. Within half an hour that dominance led to the 0-1.

A shot by Wenderson Galeno was saved by Iñaki Peña, who kept it because first goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen was having problems with his back. On the rebound, Brazilian striker Pepe (not to be confused with the 40-year-old Portuguese defender who was also in the starting lineup) scored.

Brazilian striker Pepe

Barcelona’s response was not long in coming. Portuguese Joao Cancelo equalized a minute later with a fiery shot. The former player of Porto arch-rival Benfica celebrated the goal exuberantly.

Despite the equalizer, Barça had a hard time, as evidenced by the yellow card that De Jong had to take shortly afterwards to interrupt a dangerous attack. Both Barcelona and Porto had great chances before halftime, but Raphina shot wide and Peña made a good save.

After halftime, João Félix shot on the crossbar in the first minute, only to score ten minutes later. Another Portuguese who scored against Porto.

Frenkie de Jong (right) in a duel with Pepe

The other match in the group was between Mark van Bommel’s Antwerp and Marino Pusic’s Shakhtar Donetsk. It was not a nice evening for Van Bommel, who also did not win his fourteenth game as coach in the Champions League after a 1-0 defeat against Sjachtar.

Pusic left as assistant coach at Feyenoord last month to become head coach of the Ukrainians, succeeding the dismissed Patrick van Leeuwen. Also a Dutch coach. After the surprising victory against FC Barcelona it is the second victory in a row for Pusic in the billion dollar ball.

Due to the defeat, the fifth in five games, Antwerp is now assured of the last place in the group and is therefore eliminated.

Early deficit in Hamburg

The Ukrainians made it 1-0 in the twelfth minute thanks to a header from defender Mykola Matvijenko. After that, Antwerp played well in the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg – where the game was played because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – and occasionally got chances.

Antwerp coach Van Bommel

Yet Shakhtar came closest to scoring, shots from Irakli Azarovi and captain Taras Stepanenko in the second half bursting onto the crossbar.

In the final phase, Antwerp tried to force an equalizer. Toby Alderweireld had another chance in injury time, but shot from close range at Shakhtar goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk. After six games with PSV, three with Wolfsburg and now five with Antwerp, Van Bommel now remains fourteen games without a victory in the Champions as coach. A negative record that he already had in his own hands after the previous defeat.

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