Goals by Sadio Mane, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Benjamin Pavard earned Bayern Munich a 3-0 win at already-eliminated Barcelona on Wednesday as the German giants clinched a spot in the Champions League round of 16 as group winners.
Bayern top Group C on 15 points, five ahead of Inter Milan who also reached the knockout stage after a 4-0 win against Viktoria Plzen earlier on Wednesday, a result that eliminated Barcelona in the group stage for the second year in a row.
With Barcelona having nothing riding on their game, it did not take long for Bayern to open the scoring through Mane 10 minutes into the first half after receiving a brilliant long pass from Serge Gnabry.
Mane beat Spanish defender Hector Bellerin in a 50-metre race and scored with a tidy finish.
Bayern doubled their lead in similar fashion 21 minutes later, catching the Barca defence sleeping and out of position.
Joshua Kimmich passed to Gnabry who, from the edge of the box, set up Choupo-Moting to score his sixth goal in the Champions League this season.
Barca thought they had a penalty after a clash between Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt and Polish striker Robert Lewandowski but the referee, after a VAR check, ruled that there had been no foul.
Bayern took their foot off the gas after the break and had a Gnabry goal ruled out for offside in the 56th minute.
Pavard scored the third goal in the very last play of the game, with a close-range strike from a corner.
“The way we won gives us a lot of energy. I don’t think Barca were expecting us to be so bold. But you have to do that when you play against Barcelona,” Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann told DAZN.
“We scored two lovely goals and added a third at the end. We defended with so much passion. The team made a statement tonight.”
Barcelona looked stale and went the full 90 minutes without a single strike on target.
“We have to face our new reality, today we didn’t even have the level to compete,” Barca manager Xavi told Movistar Plus.
“I believe today the psychological side weighed on us, going into the game knowing that we were already out.
“We started the season with very high expectations but ended up in a very complicated group and didn’t manage to be at the necessary level to compete with them. It’s a huge disappointment.”
Since winning the Champions League title for the last time in 2015, Barca have reached the semi-finals only once, in 2019. They lost 8-2 to Bayern in the 2020 quarter-finals, were knocked out in the round of 16 by PSG in 2021, and failed to make it past the group stage in the last two editions.
Last year, Barca’s exit at the group stage came after the departure of Lionel Messi to Paris St Germain and the financial crisis that led to the resignation of the entire club board.
This season, however, following the big-money signings of Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde, a better outcome had been expected.
They have won only one of their five games in the group so far and will go into the second-tier Europa League after ending up third in the group for the second year in a row.
Spurs still in charge of group as Bentancur earns draw against Sporting
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur’s header salvaged a 1-1 draw against Sporting to keep the London side in control of Champions League Group D but the game ended in chaotic scenes as Harry Kane’s last-gasp effort was disallowed on Wednesday.
Victory for Spurs would have booked their place in the last 16 with a game to spare and they thought they had sealed it with almost the last kick of the game when Kane fired in from close range after Emerson Royal’s header across goal.
It sparked wild celebrations on the touchline but joy turned to anger as a VAR check that lasted several minutes ruled the goal out for offside — prompting a furious reaction from Spurs manager Antonio Conte who was sent off for his reaction.
Conte’s team will now have to avoid defeat at Olympique de Marseille next week to qualify for the knockout phase, while Sporting’s reprieve means they can also still progress.
“I thought because (Emerson’s header) went backwards and hit a defender it was a different phase of play,” Tottenham defedner Matt Doherty said of the decision that left the majority in the stadium scratching their heads.
“I’ll have to look at the rule book. A few of us don’t have a clue what happened.”
The result left Tottenham top of a desperately tight group on eight points, with Sporting and Eintracht Frankfurt, who beat Olympique de Marseille2-1, on seven. Marseille have six points.
Spurs will qualify for the last 16 if they avoid defeat in Marseille on Tuesday when Sporting host Frankfurt also needing a point to guarantee a place in the knockout stage. If Tottenham lose in France they will be out of the competition.
Conte admitted his side were poor in the first half but questioned whether the VAR decision would have been given against one of Europe’s heavyweights.
“I would like to see this type of decision with a top team, in an important game, I would like to see if VAR is so brave to take this decision,” the Italian said.
Tottenham began the match on the back of successive Premier League defeats which stopped their early-season momentum.
They were awful in the first half against Sporting, slow in possession and cumbersome in attack and the visitors dominated.
The hosts had one massive let-off when Paulinho sliced a great chance over the bar from Pedro Porro’s cross.
But in the 22nd minute they went behind when former Spurs player Marcus Edwards was given time to line up his shot and he duly beat Hugo Lloris with a sweetly-struck left footer.
Tottenham were vastly improved after the break and peppered the Sporting goal in their desperate search for an equaliser with keeper Antonio Adan making sharp saves from Eric Dier, Son Heung-min and Doherty.
Sporting substitute Flavio Nazinho spurned two great opportunities to make the points safe — first denied by Lloris and then shooting wide of an open goal – and in the 80th minute those misses looked even more costly as Tottenham levelled.
Ivan Perisic swung in a corner and midfielder Bentancur rose highest to head powerfully past Adan.
There was still more drama to come with Lloris forced into a great to deny substitute Fatawu Issahaku before Kane thought he had stolen it for the hosts.
“Last year we had some luck in certain moments, this season has been a very difficult season, so I hope for the best and he (Kane) was offside and it was a good moment,” Sporting coach Ruben Amorim said of the final twist.
“It was a very good first half and then the second half we were tired, but we suffered as a team.”
Wednesday Champions League results and standings after 5 (of 6) games:
Napoli 3 Rangers 0
Ajax 0 Liverpool 4
Standings: Napoli 15, Liverpool 12, Ajax 3, Rangers 0
Atletico Madrid 2 Leverkusen 2
Club Brugge 0 Porto 4
Standings: Brugge 10, Porto 9, Atletico Madrid 5, Leverkusen 4
Barcelona 0 Bayern 3
Inter 4 Viktoria 0
Standings: Bayern15, Inter10, Barcelona 4, Viktoria 0
Tottenham 1 Sporting Lisobon 1
Eintracht 2 Marseille 1
Standings: Tottenham 8, Sporting Lisbon 7, Eintracht 7, Marseille 6