29th November, 2018
If anyone had thought that Barcelona were going to have an easy game against PSV Eindhoven in their return leg of the Champions League played yesterday in the Netherlands, he or she must have been jolted to reality as the Dutch side gave the Catalonian soccer giants a real run for their money.
But for Lionel Messi’s superlative performance especially in the second half, the result could have gone the other way as PSV came into the game firing on all cylinders.
They could have been three goals up in the first hour of the game but for mother luck who was definitely not on their side as they hit the goal posts thrice.
It was not as if Barcelona did not have their own chances too but the home team was more dominant at that stage.
Then the “little magician” decided to take matters into his own hands. “Marvelous” Messi not only scored a sublime goal for himself but also provided an assist for Gerald Pique to blast home the second goal for Barcelona before PSV finally scored a consolation goal in a match that proved to be more explosive than many had expected.
If truly there is a god of football, it surely was on the side of Barcelona in this thrilling encounter as PSV Eindhoven wasted no time in showing that they were more than prepared to take the game to the visitors.
Very early in the game, Gaston Pereiro forced the Barca goal-keeper, Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make a flying save from a free-kick, then struck a shot on to the right post and later, from De Jong’s knock-down, shot over the bar from close range.
Then came Barcelona with their own close shaves as Arturo Vidal was twice denied by goal-line blocks from the home team’s defence.
This was followed by yet another set of fierce attacking moves from PSV which resulted in De Jong’s header against the crossbar and thereafter, Denzel Dumfries hitting the upright of the visitor’s post.
The game was then turned on its head as Barcelona decided to show the stuff they are made of. Spearheading the show was as usual “Captain Magic Messi”.
Ousmane Dembele who was given a rare start alongside Messi and Coutinho, slipped a pass into his captains path and the “little magician” simply did what he knows how to do best as he maneuvered his way through a couple of stunned defenders before shooting past a helpless Jeroen Zoet in goal for the Dutch side.
That happened in the 61st minute. As if that was not enough for him, Messi it was who went on to provide the assist for the winning goal 10 minutes later as he deceived PSV’s wall by whipping a free-kick onto Pique’s boot for a well struck first-time finish.
PSV Einhoven later on got a consolation goal as De Jong was in place to nod home Angelino’s cross in the 82nd minute.
This win ensured that Barcelona go into the knock-out rounds as the leaders of Group B.
Their last match in this group will be against Tottenham Hotspurs who gave themselves a lifeline by defeating Inter Milan 1-0 in the other game of the group played in London.
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