Leverkusen - After taking the lead early on, Bayer 04 Leverkusen defended valiantly against FC Barcelona before succumbing to a 2-1 defeat at the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening.
0-1 Papadopoulos (22'), Roberto (80'), Suarez (82')
Leverkusen exploded into the game, showing no fear in the face of the UEFA Champions League holders. The Werkself created the first major chance of the game and were without doubt the dominant side in the opening twenty minutes, creating myriad chances from the wings. They were rewarded in the 22nd minute as Hakan Calhanoglu's corner found Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who headed in from a yard in front of goal.
Barcelona were slow to react, and Leverkusen carved out several more opportunities before being forced back. The Bundesliga side put in a valiant display towards the end of the first half to hold off sustained Barcelona pressure, with Papadopoulos' lunging, last gasp block to deny Rakitic a particular highlight.
The second half started well for Leverkusen, with Hernandez missing a gilt-edged chance from close range. After that, it was Barcelona who directed the play, although the Spaniards were able to create few meaningful chances before the 80th minute. Sergi Roberto got the equaliser after a goalmouth scramble, before Luis Suarez smashed the ball in from 18 yards two minutes later.
Man of the match
Karim Bellarabi put in a sublime performance on the left, particularly in the first half. Exploiting the space left behind by Dani Alves, Bellarabi caused constant problems for Pique and Mascherano in the Barcelona defence. He was at the heart of several major chances, darting time and again into the Barcelona penalty area from out wide.
Despite losing, Leverkusen showed an immense defensive resilience, keeping their shape for most of the game and stopping 16 Barcelona shots from inside the box. Roger Schmidt will be hoping that they can carry such determination into upcoming Bundesliga fixtures
- Hakan Calhanoglu has now been involved in 12 goals in his 14 games in European competition.
- Barcelona had 19 shots on goal, 16 of them from inside the box.
- Leverkusen only had 30 per cent of possession over the whole game.
Barcelona: ter Stegen – Alves, Mascherano, Piqué, Mathieu – Busquets – Rakitic (Roberto 72'), Iniesta (Alba 61')– Sandro Ramirez (El Haddadi 63'), Suarez, Neymar
Leverkusen: Leno – Donati (Hilbert 76'), Tah, Papadopoulos, Wendell – Kramer, L. Bender – Kampl, Calhanoglu – Bellarabi (Brandt 66'), Hernandez (Kießling 55')