Barcelona extended their lead at the top of Group C as they defeated a spirited Borussia Mönchengladbach 2 – 1 in Westphalia.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 1 – 2 Barcelona
The game started as expected, with Barcelona dominating possession; 61% to Borussia’s 39%. The hosts were content to give their more illustrious visitors the ball in their own half, preferring to sit deep and hit on the counter.
Within the first ten minutes, roaming full back Jordi Alba had been released down the left, before pulling the ball back to Neymar, with the Brazilian then striking a glorious chance straight at goalkeeper Yann Sommer. Sergio Busquets too was often afforded the freedom of Borussia-Park, but Barca could still not create the clear cut scoring chances they craved; Suarez arguably missing the most obvious chance, firing wide from a good position in the Borussia box.
Against the run of play, and of possession certainly, the Germans scored first. Mönchengladbach stole the lead through a well-worked breakaway Thorgan Hazard goal. Busquets was mugged on the half way line by Mahmoud Dahoud, who released Raffael. Dahoud received the ball back again, before slipping a delicious through ball to Hazard who finished smartly underneath returning hero Marc-Andre ter-Stegen.
Out of nowhere, however, Barcelona equalised in the 64th minute. A patient build up in the final third found Neymar with space on the edge of the area, and Barca’s number 11 scooped a dinked pass towards Luis Suarez before substitute Arda Turan burst onto the scene and rifled a shot high into the net past Sommer in the Borussia goal.
A second goal was not long in coming. Adra Turan worked his way into the right hand channel and forced a corner. In a move straight from the Joan Gamper training ground, Neymar drilled the ball in low to Suarez, Sommer made a good save low to his right only to find Gerard Pique on hand to score from close range.
From then on it was all Barcelona; Iniesta asserting his dominance on the ball and being his usual imperious self. The Barcelona captain stroked the ball around without a care in the world, linking play and keeping the possession that coach Luis Enrique would have demanded to close out the game.
The only light scare came late on as a lofted through ball over the Barca defence found Fabian Johnson, with Javier Mascherano stretching out a leg to deny the American defender a shot on goal.
Despite the half time deficit, the Catalans would have been pleased with their night’s work, especially as they learned the result from Park Head, which saw close rivals Manchester City come from behind on three occasions to draw 3 – 3 with Celtic. Barcelona welcome Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Matchday Three in what is set to be a sensational encounter.