Champions League: Barcelona gets third win in a row, defeats Dynamo Kyiv

Lionel Messi scores a penalty for the third Champions League game in a row; Barcelona maintains winning start.

Lionel Messi celebrates with his team-mates on Wednesday after scoring against Dynamov Kyiv. - AP

Barcelona earned a far from convincing 2-1 win at home to a depleted Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday as Lionel Messi scored a penalty for the third Champions League game in a row with the Spaniards maintaining their winning start to the group stage.

MATCH CENTRE

The Argentine, who had also scored spot-kicks in wins over Group G opponents Ferencvaros and Juventus, tucked away a penalty in the fifth minute while Gerard Pique netted in the second half, glancing in a fine cross from Ansu Fati.

Dynamo, which was missing six players due to COVID-19 positives, which also afflicted five members of staff, gave a decent account of itself and spurned a couple of chances to equalise as well as having a goal from a corner ruled out due to the ball going out of play.

It deservedly pulled a late goal back in the 75th minute when Viktor Tsygankov slid the ball into the net, pouncing on a rebound after Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen could only parry a shot from Benjamin Verbic.

The victory put Barcelona on the verge of a place in the knockout stages, leaving it top on nine points after three games, with Juventus second on six and Dynamo and Ferencvaros with a point each.

'Need to improve'

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was visibly anxious on the sidelines and did not attempt to gloss over the sloppy performance.

“We suffered more today than in any other game so far, we need to improve a lot when we don’t have the ball,” said the Dutchman.

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“I’m happy with the result but not with certain aspects of our game and luckily we had Ter Stegen around. I think we started well and got the goal early and had some clear chances but after that we lost control and they created a lot of danger. Thanks to Marc, who was phenomenal, we held on.”

Barcelona went into the match after a disappointing 1-1 draw at Alaves, the fourth game in a row in La Liga which it had failed to win, but got off to an ideal start at an empty Camp Nou when Messi converted from the spot after being hauled down.

The Catalans made a blistering start and almost immediately built on their advantage when teenager Pedri clanged the crossbar.

 

Antoine Griezmann then bungled a simple chance to score a tap-in, inexplicably finding the side netting when the ball bounced into his path from close range after Fati saw his shot parried.

Dynamo should have levelled before halftime when Vitaliy Buyalskyi powered a header at goal but was denied by the strong hand of Ter Stegen, who was making his first appearance of the season after recovering from knee surgery.

“The opponents had too many clear chances and we need to improve in that respect. We need to talk about that,” said Ter Stegen.

His opposite number Ruslan Neshcheret, 18, produced an even more impressive display, pulling off an outstanding save from a Messi free kick while also keeping out later efforts from Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto.

Pique: Barca in decline

Barcelona Gerard Pique has said the club had been declining for some time and welcomed the resignation of president Josep Maria Bartomeu, predicting a brighter future under new leadership and with plenty of young blood in the squad.

Bartomeu and his board of directors quit the club last week after six years at the helm in order to avoid a vote of no confidence from members, leaving a legacy of plenty of trophies but a steady decline in results and a dire financial situation.

“It was obvious the club was on a downward trend and that every year things were getting a little bit worse than the last,” Pique said.

“We all know the situation the club is in right now, we're going through a process of change which was badly needed.”

The club is currently in the hands of interim president Carles Tusquets, with elections due to be held within the next three months, but Pique said the instability was no excuse for the team's inconsistent performances of late.

Although they have a 100 percent record in the Champions League, the Catalans have made a terrible start to La Liga and have failed to win their last four matches.

“There's no such thing as a transition year at Barcelona. We don't have much time to make changes but we need to make them if we are to improve,” he said.

“A new board of directors and president is coming soon and things will change in the next few months.”

Pique also admitted that his side is no longer among the top contenders to win the Champions League after its recent displays in the competition, above all the humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in August.

But he was optimistic about the future of the team, thanks to the emergence of exciting young talents such as Ansu Fati and Pedri.

“It's normal that people don't think we are candidates any more after the last few years, but all we can do is keep on working. We have a good team full of good people and we have a lot of talent,” he said.

“We've got a lot of new young faces who are bringing plenty of dynamism to the team. I can tell you from experience that the results will come soon. We believe we can still do great things.”

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