Barcelona qualify for the Champions League last 16 despite draw

Barcelona qualified for the Champions League knockout stages despite Mauro Icardi’s late strike handing Inter Milan a 1-1 draw at the San Siro on Tuesday.

Needing a victory to confirm their passage to the last 16 as group winners, Malcom gave Ernesto Valverde’s side, who were still without the injured Lionel Messi, the lead minutes after coming on as a substitute (83).

But Inter captain Icardi capitalised on some poor defending from Barca to equalise just four minutes later (87), leaving the visitors waiting to secure top spot in Group B.

Barcelona, who were unbeaten in their last 11 group stage games in the Champions League going into the match, started in confident fashion as Inter needed Samir Handanovic to keep out Ousmane Dembele’s powerful effort in the second minute.

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Lionel Messi was once again not involved, having missed Barca’s previous four matches. Messi, who has been recovering from a fractured arm and returned to training last week, had travelled with his team-mates to Italy but was not included in the matchday 18.

The visitors dominated possession with Inter always looking to counter and they almost broke the deadlock when Ivan Perisic’s low cross picked out Kwadwo Asamoah, but the defender failed to hit the target from close range.

Barca were looking the more likely side to break the deadlock though and they should have been in front in the 31st minute. Inter failed to clear Dembele’s corner and Gerard Pique kept the ball alive, knocking it down to Luis Suarez, who sliced wide from a tight angle.

Philippe Coutinho then forced an excellent save from Handanovic, who also kept out a first-time effort from Suarez to keep the scores level at the break.

Barcelona continued to dominate after the break and Handanovic made his best save just before the hour mark, blocking Ivan Rakitic’s goalbound shot, but he was blameless for Malcom’s opener.

The Brazilian has not featured much for Barca since signing from Bordeaux in the summer but he made an instant impact after replacing Dembele, controlling a pass from Coutinho before powering the ball under the diving Handanovic for his first goal for the club.

Credit ; Skysports

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