Champions League Group C, Borussia Park – Borussia M’gladbach 1 (Hazard 34’) Barcelona (Turan 65’, Pique 74’) 2
Barcelona launched a second-half comeback to win 2-1 away at Borussia Monchengladbach.
The Spanish Champions fell behind to a stunning counter-attack that was clinically finished off by the excellent Thorgan Hazard shortly after the half-hour mark.
But second-half goals from substitute Arda Turan and Gerard Pique gave the Spaniards their second win in two group matches to top the standings, after their opening 7-0 demolition of Celtic.
Arda Turan and NeymarAFP
Barca coach Luis Enrique started with Andres Iniesta, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic, all of whom were rested in the 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Gijon at the weekend.
And despite the absence of Messi, replaced by youngster Paco Alcacer, it was the Spaniards who stamped their authority on the game early on and carved out the first chance with Neymar’s shot from inside the box that was saved by keeper Yann Sommer after seven minutes.
Luis Suarez should have put Barca ahead three minutes later when he pounced on a defensive error, but he saw his powerful left-footed shot sail narrowly wide. And the Uruguayan was also the recipient of a brilliant defence-splitting pass from Neymar, but instead of rifling the ball home he tried a cut-back to Alcacer that was cleared.
‘Gladbach gradually grew in confidence and scored when forward Raffael, back from injury, gained possession in midfield and launched a quick break, with Hazard tapping in from a Mahmoud Dahoud pass.
However, the Brazilian’s injury in the 48th minute and his substitution took out most of the Gladbach pace, while the introduction of Turan on the hour brought instant results for the Spaniards, with the Turk picking up a Neymar assist in the 65th and drilling the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
It was Pique who wrapped up the win, pouncing on a weak clearance by Sommer from a Suarez shot to tap in from close range.
Barcelona, who had Argentine Messi missing with a groin injury, dominated the game but were made to work hard for a second group win that put them on six points.
The hosts, who managed just one shot on target but gave the Spaniards a run for their money, were left with zero having lost both matches so far, with this result ending an 11-match winning streak at home in all competitions.
Manchester City drew with Celtic 3-3 in the other group game to stay second on four points.