Report as Lionel Messi turns on the style in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo to inspire Barcelona to a 2-0 win at Juventus in the Champions League; Messi’s fine pass led to Ousmane Dembele’s opener and he scored a late penalty after Merih Demiral had earlier been sent off for the hosts
Barcelona put their El Clasico defeat and off-field dramas behind them with an impressive 2-0 win at Juventus in the Champions League.
While Cristiano Ronaldo’s positive coronavirus test meant there was no showdown between the Juventus star and his great rival Lionel Messi, the Argentina ace still delivered a masterclass and capped the victory with a late penalty after Ousmane Dembele’s deflected opener.
Barcelona had been beaten 3-1 at home by Real Madrid on Saturday and seen president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the entire board resign on Tuesday, but there were no signs of those distractions during a dominant display in Turin.
It was a frustrating night for the second-best hosts, who saw Alvaro Morata put the ball in the net three times and be denied by an offside call on each occasion, and they had Merih Demiral sent off with 10 minutes to play for a second yellow card.
The result puts Barcelona in control of Group G with two wins from two, with Juventus in second spot after Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros drew 2-2.
How Barca won in Turin
Barcelona had the better of the early exchanges and hit the post just three minutes in through Antoine Griezmann. They took the lead in fortuitous circumstances, though, when Dembele latched onto a marvellous Messi pass and then saw his drive loop up off Federico Chiesa and give Wojciech Szczesny no chance.
Juventus thought they had come up with an immediate response when Morata followed up a fine save from Neto to bundle the ball home, but he was offside earlier in the move.
And the Spaniard was denied again in similar circumstances on the half hour, tucking in Juan Cuadrado’s cross only to see the flag rightly go up against him.
Juventus were without the injured Giorgio Chiellini and Mattijs de Ligt but Paolo Dybala was fit in attack as part of a front four.
Miralem Pjanic started against his old side for Barcelona ahead of Sergio Busquets, while Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele were also given starts. Gerard Pique was suspended.
Jordi Alba could have doubled the visitors’ advantage soon after but slashed his shot badly wide of the near post, before Messi played in Dembele for a golden opportunity.
The forward dithered, though, and saw his close-range shot blocked by Szczesny. He teed up Griezmann from the rebound, but he was also denied by the former Arsenal ‘keeper, who was up quickly to make a fine stop.
Remarkably Morata had a third strike chalked off for offside after the break, following a long VAR check after he had thumped in Cuadrado’s volley from close range.
Barca youngster Pedri was denied a second Champions League goal in two games by Danilo’s excellent block, and the former Man City full-back pulled off an excellent tackle to dispossess Messi just after Dejan Kuvaleski and Adrien Rabiot had fired off target at the other end.
Griezmann whizzed a shot wide of the far post as Barcelona threatened for a second and their task was made easier when Demiral was sent off for a second yellow card when he left a foot in on Sergio Busquets.
Juventus gave Barcelona another helping hand when Federico Bernardeschi cluelessly bundled into the back of Ansu Fati and Messi sealed it from the spot.
Fati should have made it three when he strangely opted to pass with the goal at his mercy deep into stoppage time but by then Barcelona had already made their dominance count.
Also in Group G…
The other game in Group G saw Ferencvaros come from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Dynamo Kiev as Franck Boli equalised in the final minute.
- Barcelona have only suffered one defeat in their last 18 UEFA Champions League group stage games on the road (W11 D6), going unbeaten in each of the last 11.
- Juventus’ loss to Barcelona was just their second home defeat in their last 25 Champions League group stage games (W15 D8), the other a 1-2 loss to Manchester United in November 2018.
- Juventus failed to record a shot on target in a Champions League home game for the first time since 2003/04 (when Opta have this data available).
- Merih Demiral was the 22nd different Juventus player to be sent off in the Champions League, with the Italian side receiving seven more red cards than any other side in the competition (27).
- Since the start of last season, no player has been caught offside on more occasions in the Champions League than Álvaro Morata (13).
- Ousmane Dembélé’s goal was his first goal scored outside the box for Barcelona in all competitions since September 2018 against PSV, also in the Champions League. His previous 11 goals had all been inside.
- Since Lionel Messi’s first Champions League campaign in 2004-05, only Cristiano Ronaldo (38) has provided more assists in the competition than the Argentine (35).
Barcelona are away to Alaves in La Liga on Saturday, while Juventus are at Spezia in Serie A on Sunday.