UCL: Disappointing draw as “unlucky” Benfica share points at the Camp Nou

UCL: Disappointing draw as “unlucky” Benfica share points at the Camp Nou

Benfica was held to a disappointing draw at the Camp Nou after losing many match-defining chances in the game.

A victory at the Camp Nou Stadium would have ensured Barcelona a place in the knockout rounds for the 18th consecutive season. Still, the Catalan club failed to capitalize on its chances in Xavi Hernández’s coaching debut in Europe’s premier club tournament.

In the 83rd minute, defender Ronald Araujo thought he had scored the game-winning goal, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

In stoppage time, Benfica’s Haris Seferovic went past Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen but failed to score.

The draw left Barcelona in the second position in Group E, two points ahead of Benfica. However, Benfica has the tiebreaker advantage if it wins already-eliminated Dynamo Kyiv at home and Barcelona fails to defeat group winner Bayern in Germany in the final round.

In the other match on Tuesday, Bayern triumphed 2-1 against Dynamo, its fifth straight victory.

Xavi, the former midfielder who helped Barcelona win four Champions League titles as a player, made his coaching debut in a much-needed win against Espanyol in a Spanish league derby at the weekend, a result that ended the team’s four-match winless streak.

Benfica hadn’t advanced past the group stage since 2016-17 when Borussia Dortmund knocked out in the last 16.

Barcelona played well and appeared in command from the outset, despite not creating many big scoring chances.

Benfica almost opened the deadlock in the 34th minute with a powerful header by Roman Yaremchuck that forced Ter Stegen to save with his foot at the goal line.

A goal by Nicolás Otamendi was disallowed a few minutes later because Everton’s free-kick cross went out of bounds in the buildup.

Barcelona responded in the 42nd minute when Yusuf Demir’s looping left-footed shot hit the crossbar, and Memphis Depay almost opened the score in the 57th minute on a breakaway.

Coming off the bench in the 66th minute, Ousmane Dembélé swiftly set up a header by Frenkie de Jong, prompting a rigid stop by Benfica goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos. Dembélé also had a one-on-one opportunity in the last minutes but was unable to convert.

Barcelona faces a fierce adversary, Bayern Munich, who has dominated previous fixtures in the past. A Europa qualification instead of a Round of 16 is now a possibility for the Catalonians.

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