Sporting unable to overcome Barcelona

Sporting had to settle for a place in the Europa League following their 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in their final Champions League Group D clash.

Alcacer on target on 59′
Mathieu own-goal on 91′
Barca progress to knockout round
Sporting head to Europa League

Match summary

It was an uninspiring Barcelona performance with eight changes to the line-up after their place at the top of the group had been secured before kick-off.

But Paco Alcacer broke the deadlock just before the hour mark, ahead of an unfortunate own-goal from former Barca defender Jeremy Mathieu in stoppage time at the end of the game.

Full report

Barcelona started brightly with Sporting visibly nervous as they conceded some early possession.

Aleix Vidal smashed the first effort of the night over the target on 18 minutes, before André Gomes was allowed a sight at goal, and fired just wide.

Rui Patrício was out very quickly to deny Luis Suarez, who had beaten his man and raced into the box, while Jasper Cillessen wasn’t tested by a Bruno Fernandes dig from range.

Barca were certainly in the ascendancy in the first half but had nothing to show for it at the break.

Second half substitute Gelson Martins did well to chest the ball down and beat his marker, but his shot lacked direction and flew wide.

And after Suarez thumped a free-kick against a Sporting wall, Paco Alcácer broke the deadlock as he rose the highest from a 59th minute corner to head home.

Lionel Messi replaced Aleix Vidal on 61 minutes, while Sporting’s other half-time substitute Bas Dost, really should have scored just moments later when the ball landed perfectly at his feet. But somehow Cillessen made an excellent save to keep him out.

With Messi on, Barca raised their game and the Argentine so nearly bent a trademark shot in, but Patricio got across well to make the save.

Dost scuffed an 83rd minute volley into the ground and over the Barca goal as Alcácer had an 89th minute effort deflected wide, from another good Messi through-ball.

With both sides accepting the result, Mathieu deflected a Denis Suarez ball across the box into his own net.

Barcelona ended the evening as they had started it, in top spot in Group D as Sporting settled for third place and a spot in the Europa League.

Juventus also progressed to the knockout phase from this group following their 1-0 defeat of Olympiacos.