Juventus send Barcelona crashing out of Champions League with fighting draw

Lionel Messi, of Barcelona, being consoled by Gianluigi Buffon, of Juventus
Lionel Messi, of Barcelona, being consoled by Gianluigi Buffon, of Juventus

Barcelona’s woeful away showing finally came back to bite them as the LaLiga side flopped out of the Champions League with a goalless draw at home to Italian giants Juventus.

Luis Enrique’s men trailed 3-0 from the first leg and required a miracle to overturn the deficit – much like in the last round of the tournament, when three goals in the final six minutes against Paris Saint-Germain sent the hosts through against all odds.

But while the Catalan side mustered plenty of opportunities on the night, they could not convert their dominance into goals and were finally forced to deal with the reality of not turning up for the first half of a tie.

Gonzalo Higuain, with 29 goals in all competitions for the Serie A side, flashed a good chance over the bar early on, before Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic miscued an effort from 20 yards.

In an opening period of end-to-end football, former Chelsea man Juan Cuadrado fired an athletic effort wide having juggled the ball well, before Lionel Messi – of all people – dragged a brilliant chance wide of the far post from 12 yards.

The hosts continued to press for an early goal but struggled to hit the net, with both Neymar and Barcelona’s last-16 hero Sergi Roberto volleying efforts comfortably wide of Gianluigi Buffon’s goal.

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It was unsurprisingly Messi who forced the first fine save of the game, with the Argentinian star firing a deflected effort at goal, which Buffon kept out well, before the 29-year-old fired the rebound wide.

Former Real Madrid striker Higuain should have put the result beyond doubt seven minutes before half-time after a deft ball from Miralem Pjanic picked him out ten yards from goal, but he could only prod the ball straight at Marc Andre Ter-Stegen.

Luis Suarez fired wide with an acrobatic effort before the break, before Cuadrado twice missed the target from a good position after half-time.

Messi saw a deflected strike from 18 yards just beat the post as the hosts pressed for a route back into the match.

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Desperate times called for desperate measures, and both Barcelona’s star men Messi and Neymar fired high and wide as the pressure of the occasion begun to tell, with the former sending a volley from ten yards over the bar with Buffon out of position.

Midfielder-turned-defender Roberto was the next to fire wide, before Pablo Dybala – who scored twice in Turin – threatened to finish the tie for the visitors.

Defender Javier Mascherano has never scored for Barcelona but he almost put that record to bed when he stretched for a wicked cross, only to miss a connection by fractions.

Cuadrado and Sami Khedira both missed good opportunities to hit the hosts with a sucker punch on the break as Enrique’s charges launched themselves forward, but Massimiliano Allegri’s side were forced to settle for an ultimately comfortable draw on the night.

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