Barça got the job done in style against Borussia Dortmund at the Camp Nou on Wednesday and the three points not only mean qualification for the knockout stage of the Champions League.
The win also confirmed Barcelona as Group F winners. It means they can now go to Milan and enjoy themselves in the final game – The pressure is off.
Dortmund caused all kinds of problems when the sides met at Signal Iduna Park in the opening fixture, and Ter Stegen being forced into two saves before the first minute was up was a worrying sign that we were in for something similar today.
But it was a false alarm. That was about all that Dortmund brought to the table in the first 45 minutes, which quickly became a Barça monologue and with two names at the forefront. Leo Messi and Luis Suárez.
The Argentinian had already supplied one goal for his Uruguayan colleague, but that one was ticked off for offside. He did the trick again, and this time VAR correctly decreed that it was valid.
Questionable German defending played a part in that goal, and did so again moments later when the roles were reversed. Suárez pounced on a stray pass and in Messi had the perfect partner to finish off the job.
Dortmund did what they could to get back into the game, but it was the German standing between the Barça posts who made sure they got nowhere with that plan. Instead, just as there were signs, however slight, of vulnerability in the Barça ranks Messi led a counter-attack, found Antoine Griezmann (a first-half replacement for the injured Ousmane Dembélé) and the Frenchman’s diagonal finish was exquisite.
The third goal seemed to have put the game to bed. But now Dortmund really had no choice but to step it up another gear. And with 13 minutes to go they finally got off the mark with a fine strike from Jadon Sancho.
Shortly after, Ter Stegen got a providential finger onto the ball to tip it onto the bar, and had that one gone in we could have been in for an unexpectedly nervy finish to the game.
But there were no nerves. Three points for Barça, top place secured in the group and a place in the last sixteen for the sixteenth year in a row, and the thirteenth in a row as group winners.