'Great goalkeeper' ter Stegen saves Barca blushes

BARCELONA • Dynamo Kiev were expected to be easy pickings, having travelled to Spain without nine of their players due to a Covid-19 outbreak at their club.

It was, however, not a straightforward affair at the Nou Camp as the Ukrainian side were more than a match for Barcelona.

The hosts had Marc-Andre ter Stegen, making his first appearance of the campaign because of injury, to thank for a nervy Champions League 2-1 Group G victory over Dynamo on Wednesday.

Captain Lionel Messi opened the scoring via a penalty, while Gerard Pique scored the second before Viktor Tsyhankov pulled one back for the visitors. But it was ter Stegen who had to make a string of excellent stops to prevent another disappointing result for Barca.

Their 100 per cent record so far in the Champions League stands in contrast to a stumbling start to the season in La Liga – they have not won in four games – but Wednesday’s nervy performance will do little to ease the pressure on coach Ronald Koeman.

Admitting they got away with the win, the Dutchman told Spanish TV channel Movistar: “We started the match well and quickly made it 1-0, but we were unable to find the second goal and then lost control. Thanks to Marc, who has been phenomenal, we managed to keep the opposition out. He has proved to be a great goalkeeper.

“We have to play better and improve the game without the ball. Today we did not do that well.”

Dynamo coach Mircea Lucescu was left unimpressed, claiming “Barca are not good enough to win the Champions League”, and Pique agreed with the assessment their European Cup drought may extend to six years.

“It’s to be expected that we’re not considered as contenders after what’s happened in recent years,” he told Spanish daily AS. “It won’t be easy this year but we still believe we can achieve big things.”

In the same group, Cristiano Ronaldo made his first start for Juventus since September after recovering from Covid-19 as the Italian champions emerged with a 4-1 win at Hungary’s Ferencvaros.

An Alvaro Morata brace, a strike by Paulo Dybala and an own goal from Lasha Dvali ensured the visitors remain three points behind Barca (nine).

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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