Barcelona draw to knock Bayer Leverkusen out
Bayer Leverkusen slipped out of the Champions League and into the Europa League as they could only draw 1-1 with Barcelona in Group E on Wednesday.
The Bundesliga side needed to better Roma’s result against BATE to go through, but both sides drew their final match of the group stage – the Italians held 0-0 – leaving Rudi Garcia’s side in second place.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring at the BayArena with a trademark finish, the Argentina international taking the ball around Bernd Leno to score his 80th Champions League goal.
Leverkusen quickly restored parity as Admir Mehmedi made good ground on the left, his low cross found Javier Hernandez and the in-form strike lashed home from 10 yards.
Hakan Calhanoglu should have given the hosts the lead early in the second half after a mistake by Adriano, but he fired wide before seeing two low shots well saved.
Karim Bellarabi was also denied as Roger Schmidt’s men pushed for the victory they needed, but they were unable to find a way through, leaving Roma as the side going through with Barcelona.
A purposeful and positive start from Leverkusen saw Kevin Kampl and Calhanoglu threaten early on, the latter bringing a save out of Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a curling free-kick in the 12th minute.
Barcelona’s first moment of note came four minutes later after a mazy run by Messi, the visitors eventually working the ball to Sandro Ramirez but his low shot was well held by Bernd Leno.
Leverkusen failed to heed that warning and Barca duly broke the deadlock after 20 minutes, Messi racing on to an exquisite through-ball from Ivan Rakitic before rounding Leno to score.
They were only ahead for three minutes though, as Hernandez punished some slack defending with a crisp first-time finish, the Mexico international firing home from Mehmedi’s low cross.
Messi should have put the visitors back in front just before the half-hour mark, but he surprisingly fired wide from Jordi Alba’s cut back.
Four minutes after the restart Calhanoglu had his head in his hands after wasting a glorious chance to put Leverkusen ahead, Adriano’s poor defensive clearance dropped at the Turkey international’s feet but his placed effort flew agonisingly wide.
With much more to play for the hosts were making all the running and as the clock ticked past the hour mark, Ter Stegen was twice called upon to deny the threatening Calhanoglu.
The German goalkeeper was proving a thorn in Leverkusen’s side as he was on hand again as Bellarabi raced clear, his effort easily pushed away by the Barca keeper.
Stefan Kiessling’s introduction failed to bring the goal Schmidt was desperate for as Leverkusen dropped into the Europa League, while holders Barca prepare for another tilt at the title in the knockout stages.