Barça indulge in Turkish delight
FC Barcelona extended their impressive unbeaten streak to 11 matches across all competitions by dumping Turkish giants Galatasaray S.K. out of the UEFA Europa League with a 2-1 comeback win.
An impressive first-leg holdout at the Camp Nou poised Galatasaray to go all-out against the evening’s visitors, in a bid to continue their pursuit of a first European title in 22 years. An adrenaline-filled first 10 minutes saw Bafetimbi Gomis’ shot brilliantly blocked by Jordi Alba, before Frenkie de Jong slotted his drive inches away from Iñaki Peña’s right post.
Thereafter, Xavi’s Barcelona set forth to do what they do best – control possession effectively. But ‘Gala’ had other ideas, as they opened the deadlock in style in the 28th minute and sent the roof of the stadium flying from captain Marcão’s sublime diving header. However, that joy was short-lived as it didn’t take long for Barça to equalise, thanks to Pedri’s superb composure in the box. The 19-year-old starlet successfully dummied two oncoming defenders before slotting the ball in to send the sides into the HT on level terms.
The handful of ’Blaugrana’ supporters at the venue got exactly what they wished for just after the restart. Not delaying their onslaught, the visitors bombarded the hosts with a hattrick of shots on goal – two of which shot-stopper Peña parried away with utmost brilliance, but the battling goalkeeper was beaten at the third attempt. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s simple tap-in from point-blank range proved too hot to handle for the Barcelona loanee.
With a one-goal lead, Barça dominated proceedings, keeping possession and looking like their former-self, as the Galatasaray players looked tired from chasing the ball. Domènec Torrent’s side looked threatening whenever they did get a chance to pose a counter-attack but ultimately, the visitors were comfortable.
As the match entered the final quarter-hour, the home side looked to up the ante, hoping to force the match into extra-time. However, the Turkish fans began to get frustrated, and disrupted the match by throwing projectiles towards Barcelona players. The ‘Blaugrana’ managed to hold out and secured their sixth H2H win over Galatasaray with an inspired second-half performance, condemning the Turkish outfit to a sixth straight loss against Spanish sides in two-legged ties.