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The last thing the home supporters wanted to see in this evening’s Champions League game at the Estadi Olímpic was a Portuguese masterclass, but that is what they got.
Only it didn’t turn out to be such a bad thing at all! For although Porto were good value for their lead on 30 minutes, it was Barça’s own Portuguese duo of João Cancelo and João Felix who spearheaded the revival that has secured a place in the knockout stage.
And they are likely to be advancing as group champions, for the only way Barça could drop to second would be by losing to Antwerp on the final day while Shakhtar somehow manage to reduce a seven-goal deficit in goal difference.
Porto go ahead
But those are minor matters to think about the future. The important thing is that after two years of disappointment, this time Barça are among the sixteen teams that will continue the battle for the biggest trophy of all.
It took 90 very lively minutes of football to achieve that. The Catalans might have had the upper hand in the opening minutes, but Porto gradually gained more and more control of the match, including a goal disallowed for offside, before taking the lead on the half hour.
Iñaki Peña, again standing in for Ter Stegen in goal, could only parry away the original shot and Pepê was quickest to meet the rebound.
Barça looked to be in trouble, but an immediate response emerged from the feet of Cancelo as he sliced his way brilliantly through the Porto defence before unleashing the perfect finish.
The goal swung the momentum straight back into Barça favour, and from then until the final whistle they always looked the better team. A number of relatively simple chances went begging before they finally struck a second time on 53 minutes.
Cancelo was the provider this time, and his compatriot João Felix, who had already hit the crossbar earlier, slotted home his first goal since September.
For the umpteenth time this season Barça had come back from behind. However, Porto were desperate to avoid their own campaign ending in a final day showdown against Shakhtar and did their best to keep Iñaki on his toes.
But the replacement keeper posted an extremely solid, mature performance between the sticks, with the home fans even chanting his name at one point.
Instead it was down to Raphinha in particular to have the pick of the many blaugrana chances to establish a two-goal cushion. That didn’t happen and there were moments of nerves in the final minutes, but in the end it’s all smiles as attention now turns to two crunch Liga fixtures against Atlético Madrid and Girona.
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