Barcelona won its second game in a row in the Champions League group stage, comfortably beating BATE Borisov away from home thanks to a brace from Ivan Rakitic. It was an encouraging, dominating win in which the team finally controlled the opposition and didn't allow the game to get difficult. Neymar Jr. and Luis Suárez didn't have their scoring boots on, but were fundamental to the victory once again. With the win, Barça continues to lead the group, and need another victory against BATE in a few weeks to qualify for the knockout stages.
Things looked easy. Barça had a very solid start, keeping possession while avoiding counter-attacks, creating some very good passing sequences and looking for combined plays between Neymar and Suárez. A few dangerous chances came on some nice corner-kicks, but the Blaugrana were unable to score on said opportunities.
And then, just 17 minutes in, things got tricky: Sergi Roberto was forced out of the game with an injury, and his replacement, Ivan Rakitic, entered well and created some more chances, but the Catalans looked uninspired and relying too heavily on individual plays instead of collective creativity, which was the theme of the initial minutes. The last quarter of the first half had a few instances of BATE going forward, but nothing dangerous happened.
Neymar had a beautiful shot at the end of the half, but the ball curled out just wide. No score, yet a somewhat encouraging performance for the Blaugranes. They just needed some goals.
The goal came quite early, after only three minutes, when Neymar quickly countered and passed to Rakitic at the edge of the box, and the Croatian unleashed a sensational right-footed shot to the top corner to open the score. Some 15 minutes later, another counter-attack from Neymar, and another beautiful assist from the Brazilian to Rakitic, who got a brace with a gorgeous chip over the keeper.
From then on, it was just about damage control and keeping a clean sheet. In the end, a comfortable, important away victory, and good momentum going forward.
BATE: Chernik; Gaiduchik, Polyakov, Milunovic, Mladenovic; M. Volodko (Karnitski), Nikolic (Yablonski), A. Volodko, Stasevich; Signevich (Mozolevski), Gordeichuk
Barcelona: Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Bartra, Alba; Mascherano, Roberto (Rakitic), Busquets (Gumbau); Munir (Sandro), Suárez, Neymar
Goals: Rakitic (48', 64')