Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Barcelona : full highlights
Bayer Leverkusen battered a much altered Barcelona side, but couldn’t find a winning shot that would have guaranteed their into the Champions League Last 16 round.
In the end, they succumbed to a draw 1-1, which didn’t affect Barcelona who had already topped the group, but meant Leverkusen had finished 3rd in Group A behind Roma – who disappointed them into 2nd.
Lionel Messi gave the visitors a head start, after Ivan Rakitic played him through quite gracefully on goal. Rakitic and Messi were the only two familiar starters in the original XI, and it was their culminated combination all evening which conjured the hosting Germans the most trouble.
Before that though, the outstanding Hakhan Calhanoglu had two fabulous free-kicks saved by Marc Andre-ter Stegen, who apart from Messi, was probably Barcelona’s best player last night.
In spite of going behind, Leverkusen continued to press hard, with Kevin Kampl making big problems down the left. And it gained its reward, with Javier Hernandez, the currently Bundesliga Player of the Month for November, equalising just before the half-time whistle.
The Mexican, who’d surely fit in Manchester United’s team right away, found the top left corner in spite of being balanced and on his wrong foot.
From this point onwards though, Barcelona somehow were only a threat on the break given Luis Enrique decided to blood more of the youngsters and sit deep and watch.
Sadly for the hosts though, they were never able to find a breakthrough, and substitute Steffan Kiessling somehow missed a good chance later. If he’d have looked up, he’d have found Hernandez right next to him.
With injury time nearing, Christoph Kramer had a chance in the six yard box, but the quick Sergi Samper intercepted and cleared it off Barca’s lines. Then, Hernandez guessed he’d won them the game, but the keeper stuck out a fantastic left hand to defy Leverkusen yet once again.
Enrique will be pleased that he rested most of his best players for the weekend and managed to get a closer look at some of his promising youngsters. None were too exceptional though, and among the less experienced players, Samper was the best.