Barcelona Soars Past Porto into Champions League Last 16

Barcelona Soars Past Porto into Champions League Last 16

Barcelona staged a comeback to defeat Porto 2-1 on Tuesday, securing a place in the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time in three seasons.

Porto’s Brazilian winger Pepe opened the scoring, but Barcelona’s Portuguese duo, Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix, responded with goals to reverse the game’s momentum.

The former Benfica pair capitalized against their old club’s rivals, ensuring that Xavi Hernandez’s team avoided the group stage exit they experienced in the previous two seasons. Despite Barcelona’s nervousness after a recent defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk and lackluster domestic performances, Cancelo quickly equalized after Porto took the lead, and he later set up Felix for the decisive goal in the second half.

Xavi made tactical changes, moving Cancelo to left-back and bringing in Ilkay Gundogan for Oriol Romeu, following Barcelona’s 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano. Inaki Pena retained his place in goal due to Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s absence with back pain and made several crucial saves.

Porto’s Pepe, the fifth oldest player in Champions League history at 40 years and 275 days, faced jeers from Barca fans due to his Real Madrid past. Despite an early effort from Felix being blocked, Porto’s Medhi Taremi had a goal disallowed for offside.

After Porto took the lead through Pepe’s rebound, Cancelo leveled the score with an impressive individual goal, cutting in from the left and beating Porto’s goalkeeper Diogo Costa.

The game continued with a frantic pace in the second half, with Felix hitting the crossbar before finally scoring, assisted by Cancelo. Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo’s emphatic fist pump at full-time reflected the team’s relief and acknowledgment of a hard-fought victory.