Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a Marco Reus penalty as Barcelona just about did enough to draw 0-0 at Borussia Dortmund.
Lionel Messi’s second-half return from injury was not enough to inspire Barcelona to Champions League victory at Borussia Dortmund as Marc-Andre ter Stegen played a vital role in securing a 0-0 draw on Tuesday.
Talismanic forward Messi made his first appearance of the season after recovering from a calf injury, though he was a peripheral figure for Barca, who only secured a point thanks to Ter Stegen saving Marco Reus’ penalty.
Dortmund edged a first half that was cagier than many might have expected from a contest between two typically free-flowing sides, though proceedings were more stretched after the break.
Reus spurned a glorious chance to give the hosts the lead in the 57th minute when seeing his spot-kick kept out by Ter Stegen and then Julian Brandt hit the crossbar from long distance as Barca held on to a point.
Dortmund began the brighter of the two sides, but Barca crafted the first opening as Gerard Pique’s glancing header in the 13th minute flashed right across the face of goal.
They had to rely on Ter Stegen to remain level 12 minutes later, however, the German thwarting Reus from close range after he latched on to Thorgan Hazard’s incisive disguised pass.
Dortmund went close again six minutes before half-time, but Jadon Sancho fired just over from 20 yards after being teed up by Paco Alcacer at the end of well-worked counter.
Ter Stegen was Barca’s saviour once more just before the hour mark, producing a brilliant save down to his left to keep Reus’ penalty out after Nelson Semedo had trodden on Sancho’s foot.
Messi was introduced soon after for the quiet Ansu Fati, who became Barca’s youngest player in the Champions League.
Dortmund still looked livelier, as Alcacer and Reus shot over from close range, before Brandt’s 30-yard drive hit the bar, but Barca escaped unscathed.
What does it mean? Dortmund pay for lack of ruthlessness
Dortmund will not have many better opportunities to beat Barcelona, who were way short of their brilliant best.
With a penalty and several close-range chances, Dortmund will be left to reflect on having let their illustrious visitors off the hook.
Ter Stegen saves Barca
While he was not excessively busy, there is no doubt Ter Stegen was vital to Barca avoiding defeat. He made a wonderful block to deny Reus in the first half and then saved his penalty after the break.
Griezmann’s influence minimal
With Messi starting on the bench and Luis Suarez only just back from injury, Antoine Griezmann might have been expected to provide the spark for Barca in attack, but he was generally quiet, creating only one opportunity.
Key Opta Facts
– Borussia Dortmund have failed to score in five of their last six matches in the Champions League, having scored in 12 games in a row before this run.
– Barcelona are now unbeaten in their last 14 Champions League group stage matches against German sides (W11 D3), starting in October 2001 against Bayer Leverkusen.
– Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who kept out a Marco Reus penalty in the 57thminute, has now saved four of the six penalties he has faced in the Champions League.
– Ansu Fati (16years, 321days) became the first 16-year old to appear for Barcelona in Champions League history, overtaking Bojan (17y 22d) as their youngest player in the competition.
Dortmund have Bundesliga clashes with Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen before returning to European action at Slavia Prague on October 2. Barca host Inter on the same day in the Champions League, though they must face Granada, Villarreal and Getafe beforehand.