FC Barcelona v Borussia Mönchengladbach: Group stage sealed in style (4-0)
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FC Barcelona put in a dominant display at home to Borussia Monchengladbach to end the Champions League group stage on a high with a goal from Leo Messi and a hat-trick from Arda Turan in a 4-0 win.
With first place in the group already wrapped up, Barça took a morale-boosting win at the Camp Nou after three straight draws in all competitions
After a period of early dominance from the home team, it did not take long before Barça opened the scoring. On 16 minutes, André Gomes squeezed the ball to Messi just outside the area who then threaded the ball through to Arda. The Turk unselfishly cut the ball back to his colleague who slotted the ball into the far corner for 1-0 for his tenth of the European campaign.
The same combination almost led to a swift second, but Messi’s deflected shot was smartly tipped wide by Yann Sommer.
It was a period of sheer dominance from Barça. The times Borussia got out of their own half in the first half hour could have been counted on one hand as Barça maintained total control of possession, and constantly knocking on the visitors’ goal.
Aleix Vidal and Denis Suárez connected well all night on the right flank all night and a second nearly came with a one-two exchange between the pair, followed by a cross from the full-back to Messi, but his shot was again deflected for a corner.
In the second half, Barça were able to add incision to their dominance. On 50 minutes, Messi’s through ball released Vidal who picked out Arda on the edge of the box for a composed finish into the bottom corner.
Three minutes later, the Turkish international doubled his tally. Denis Suárez’s cross flicked up off a Mönchengladbach defender, with the ball kindly into the path of Arda who nodded in from six yards.
And on 67 minutes, Arda sealed his hat-trick. A sweeping counter attack culminated in Rafinha playing Alcácer out wide who unselfishly laid the ball on a plate for Arda who tapped in from close range despite Sommer’s best efforts.
Despite the scoreline, the one-way traffic towards Sommer’s goal continued and Messi very nearly had his second on 73 minutes. Lucas Digne’s chipped cross was headed firmly towards goal by the Argentine but the Swiss keeper pulled a fine stop to deny the magical no.10.
With ten minutes to go, the Germans should have had a consolation goal to take away from their first ever Camp Nou visit as Raffael played in substitute Fabian Johnson. The American international rounded Jasper Cillessen but, due to the tight angle, attempted to cross the ball to a teammate but was way off the mark.
It was not only a night to remember for Arda Turan who took home the match ball, but also for young Marc Cardona who came off the bench to make his Champions League debut.
Barça sealed the group stage in style, ending top of Group C with 15 points and a goal difference of +16 and will learn of their second round opponent during Monday’s draw.
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