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It was so nearly the perfect end to the perfect group. The U19 team were about to make it six wins out of six in Group D of the UEFA Youth League when Sporting CP grabbed a draw with practically the last kick of the game.
Dominance finally pays off
Barça dominated the possession throughout the first half without ever causing any real danger. But Sporting caused even less, only giving Montenegrin goalkeeper Lazar Carevic a few speculative crosses to nowhere to deal with on his tournament debut.
Rafa Mújica was another new face, back for his first action since a femoral biceps injury in June.
With both sides already safely through to the next round, there was a lack of tension on a bitterly cold afternoon by Catalan standards. Barça continued to dominate in the second half, although the visitors came closest when the effects of a defensive mix-up were nicely resolved by Carevic.
It was a similar error at the other end that led to Edgar Fernandez netting the only goal of the game after 55 minutes.
A second Barça goal always looked more likely as the game crawled towards its conclusion – with some delightful solo runs coming to nothing.
But just when the fans in the Miniestadi were starting to think about making their way to the exits, the Portuguese side snatched an equaliser, very much against the run of play, through substitute Leao.
It was a cruel blow, but ultimately none of this will matter. The U19 team were already through to the knockout stages as one of the seeded teams, and Sporting will be joining them as the runners-up.
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