Barcelona’s Lewandowski OK as team exorcises UCL ghosts

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Barcelona declared their Champions League exodus after Javi Hernandez scored a goal from Ferran Torres in a 1-0 win at FC Porto on Wednesday.

Barca have been knocked out in the group stages in each of the last two seasons and have suffered some tough defeats in recent years, particularly away from home.

They had to dig deep to beat Porto, who had a second-half penalty overturned by VAR and a goal ruled out for offside but to make it six points from six after two games.

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“The first half was pretty good, but in the second half we didn’t have control and we suffered,” said Xavi, who took charge of his 100th game as Barcelona coach against Porto.

“It’s the Champions League and it’s difficult. It’s Europe, Porto is away from home… it’s difficult. Everyone has worked very hard. We have to improve, and we will, but they are three golden points.

“There was talk of ghosts before the game [in the Champions League] And we acquitted ourselves of some of them, beating a big European team in their stadium.

“Maybe we’ve learned to win the hard way. We’re at the hardest club in the world. You win 1-0 and the glass is half empty. It’s the Champions League. We’ve won a game and it doesn’t seem like enough.”

Barca were without Portugal’s injured Pedri, Frenkie de Jong and Rafinha, while they lost Robert Lewandowski in the first half.

Xavi said the Polish striker picked up “an ankle injury” and could recover in time to face Granada in La Liga on Sunday.

Young winger Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest player to start a Champions League game on Wednesday at the age of 16 years and 83 days, also came off in the second half.

During a break in the game, Yamal disappeared down the tunnel and did not return, leaving Barca with a light player until they decided to replace him. “He felt bad, he had a stomach ache,” Xavi explained. “We suffered with 10 players because he couldn’t come back, although we tried to wait for him.”

Torres’ fourth goal of the season, set up by Ilkay Gundogan, was the difference on the night, but Porto will feel they deserved more from the game.

Referee Anthony Taylor overturned his original decision to award the Portuguese side a penalty for a handball by Joao Cancelo after VAR had spotted a handball by Stephan Eustaquio moments earlier.

Mehdi Taremio had a goal disallowed for offside, leaving Porto coach Sergio Concesio frustrated with the officials’ performance.

“The referees must be happy with their performance,” he told DAZN. “We are disappointed, disappointed, we worked hard, we played a great game.

“We created a lot of chances. It was a brutal game for us. We played against a big club, but we only played against a big club.” Barca top Group H with six points, followed by Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk, who both have three points, while Antwerp are pointless.

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