FC Barcelona 1-0 Dynamo Kyiv
After successive defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica to start their Champions League campaign, Barcelona kept their hopes of avoiding an early elimination alive with a 1-0 victory over Dynamo Kyiv at the Camp Nou. Defeat wasn’t an option for Ronald Koeman’s charges, especially with it known that one of Bayern Munich or Benfica will drop points as they face each other later on Wednesday night.
Luuk de Jong was given a start up front alongside Memphis Depay, and the on-loan Sevilla striker had the first chance of the match with a glancing header which went past the right-hand post. Ultimately, he should have done better.
Barcelona weren’t helped by the smaller crowd at the Camp Nou, with it hardly having the feel of a must-win Champions League encounter.
Georgiy Bushchan made a smart save tipping a long-distance strike from Luuk de Jong over the crossbar, but Barcelona’s attacking play could best be described as safe, much to the chagrin of the crowd that had assembled.
The goal eventually came before half-time with Gerard Pique finding himself unmarked at the back post, following a whipped Jordi Alba cross into the penalty area.
The veteran defender slid to make connection with the ball and his half-volley flew past Bushchan and into the back of the net.
Unfortunately for the home crowd, this was as good as it got for the hosts as they became more concerned with not surrendering their lead than putting a far inferior Dynamo Kyiv side to the sword.
Barcelona retained possession confidently in the second half with the introduction of Philippe Coutinho aiding that endeavour, but there wasn’t particularly any real thrust about the hosts.
Whether this was by design to save fitness ahead of Sunday’s Clasico, it can’t be proven, but there certainly was a reticence to look for the second goal.
Dynamo Kyiv offered even less, relying on set-pieces to have a chance at Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal, and in the 86th minute they were given a free-kick on the edge of the Blaugrana penalty box courtesy of a poor Pique challenge, but the Ukrainian side couldn’t muster a headed chance with Sergio Busquets clearing the ball.
The victory puts Barcelona on three points, just one behind Benfica, albeit having played a match more than the Portuguese club, and with a second clash with Dynamo Kyiv to come, the scheduling might well hand Barcelona an advantage moving forward, but the reality is that the fight for second place will come down to the meeting in the Camp Nou against the Lisbon giants.