Barcelona beats Moenchengladbach 2-1 without Lionel Messi
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 29, 2016 10:17 AM
Barcelona's Gerard Pique, center celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Champions League group C soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and FC Barcelona in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
NESHA STARCEVIC, AP Sports Writer
MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) — Barcelona overcame the absence of Lionel Messi to come from behind and beat Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday
Gerard Piquet stabbed home the winner in the 74th minute after a corner from Neymar was met with a volleyed by Luis Suarez. Moenchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer spilled the shot and the Barcelona defender hustled in to nod it home.
"We waited for a corner and it was a long time coming, but we got it and we scored," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said of the set piece.
Neymar created Barcelona's equalizer with a through ball for substitute Arda Turan, who drilled it into the roof of the net in the 65th, five minutes after coming on for Ivan Rakitic.
Moenchengladbach could not hold on after taking the lead in the 34th. Mahmoud Dahoud and Raffael combined to put Sergio Busquets under pressure and win the ball. Raffael carried it forward and then fed Dahoud on the left. His perfectly timed pass allowed Thorgan Hazard to slot home from close range.
Without Messi, Barcelona's attack lacked its usual bite until the middle of the second half. His replacement, Paco Alcacer, making his Champions League debut, made little impact. Messi, the second most prolific Champions League scorer after Real Madrid's Cristian Ronaldo, is nursing a groin injury.
Neymar was closely marked, often by two or three Moenchengladbach players. But the Brazilian got more space in the second half and used it well.
Suarez lacked support, but provided the main threat, firing high in the first real chance in the 11th.
Suarez might have done better later in the first half had he taken a shot, instead of squaring the ball to Alcacer. Julian Korb made a great sliding tackle to deny the Barcelona forward an effort on goal from close range.
Following an opening 7-0 drubbing of Celtic, Barcelona now has six points in Group C. Moenchengladbach has no points after also losing the opener 4-0 to Manchester City. City and Celtic drew 3-3 in Wednesday's match in the group.
"We want to win the group," Enrique said. "We deserved to win. I am very pleased with the performance because this team (Moenchengladbach) makes a lot of pressure all over the field. We didn't create as many chances in the second half but we had more possession.
"We proved that we can reach our goals by using all players — the starters and the bench," Enrique said.
Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen got a warm reception from his former home fans, having previously played for Moenchengladbach.
It was Barcelona's second win in their last seven matches in Germany. Moenchengladbach had been unbeaten at home in 11 straight matches in all competitions.
"We did great to go 1-0 up, but Barcelona has so much quality, you have to stay concentrated for the whole 90 minutes. If you don't, they take full advantage," said Moenchengladbach winger Patrick Herrmann, a second-half substitute. "It was close, but not the result we wanted."
Moenchengladbach coach Andre Schubert, who extended his contract until 2019 on Tuesday, said his team had played with courage and determination.
"But when you see how much class they have, we can't be too shaken. We did very well and strangely enough we even had more lapses in the first half," Schubert said. "We did just about as much as we could. We were even in long spells. I'd do nothing differently tomorrow."