At the expense of Robert Lewandowski, Barcelona managed a crucial win over Porto in the UEFA Champions League group stage. The hosts had several chances to score, and Porto actually had the ball in the net. However, any goal from the Portuguese side did not count. Barcelona shot-stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen put together a masterclass in net to preserve a 1-0 shutout for the visitors.

Barcelona entered this game with less-than-fond memories of playing in Portugal. In the 2021/22 Champions League group stage, Barcelona lost 3-0 at Benfica. In the COVID-affected 2019/20 season, Barcelona lost 8-2 in Lisbon to Bayern Munich. Wednesday evening was a step in the right direction for Xavi’s side.

To avoid some of those blemishes, Barcelona sat back early on. Porto, which won its opening game in the group stage against Shakhtar Donetsk, pushed forward. After Joao Felix had chances for Barcelona, Porto answered with Stephen Eustaquio. However, the German goalkeeper answered his attempt.

Lewandowski’s substitute grabs the only goal

Barcelona earned some bad news in the early stage of the game. Robert Lewandowski took an awkward challenge from David Carmo. While not malicious in the slightest, Lewandowski needed a substitution. Ferran Torres replaced the Polish international to lead the Barcelona line.

Torres was not Xavi’s preferred option, but he made the most of his opportunity in first-half stoppage time. Ilkay Gundogan picked up a loose ball from Porto in the middle of the park. He played in Torres, who was through on goal. The Spaniard tucked the ball between the legs of Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa.

Barcelona took advantage of the Porto mistake to snag a lead it would not relinquish.

Barcelona hangs on in win over Porto in Champions League

In the second half, all the statistics pointed in favor of Porto. The hosts mustered three great chances in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but none came off with a goal. With 15 minutes left in the game, Porto thought it had a lifeline with a penalty. Joao Cancelo handled the ball in his own box. However, VAR stepped in. Barcelona got off unscathed because the referees deemed Eustaquio used him arm to play the ball just before that. It was a narrow decision that went in favor of the visitors, much to the frustration of the home supporters.

Not long after, Porto had the ball in the back of the net. Mehdi Taremi’s sensational overhead kick beat ter Stegen. However, the pass to the Iranian came when he was in an offside position. Therefore, referees quickly flagged it down.

With Barcelona preserving its one-goal lead, Gavi picked up a second yellow. The Spanish midfielder dragged Wendell back for a second time in the game, while the other was in the first half. However, it slowed down a Porto attack, and that helped keep Barcelona in the lead.

Barcelona now has six points after two games in this season’s UEFA Champions League. Porto remains in second in the group based on goal differential after its matchday one win. Barcelona is back on the road later this month to face Shakhtar Donetsk. Meanwhile, Porto will have a chance to secure points with a home game over Royal Antwerp.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Action Plus