Barcelona edged PSV with goals from Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique to secure a first place finish in Group B, making the last game against Tottenham a mere formality. PSV scored a consolidation goal late with Luuk de Jong spoiling the clean sheet.
With the injury bug in full swing in Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde was forced to field an XI without Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Arthur and Luis Suarez. Rafinha and Jasper Cillessen were also new to the injury list but neither was likely to start. Ivan Rakitić and Philippe Coutinho, however, did receive the medical all-clear in time for kickoff. Both featured from the opening whistle, as did Ousmane Dembele, Clement Lenglet and Nelson Semedo. As a result of all these injuries four Barcelona B members made the bench.
PSV would threaten first, launching a good counter after a Sergio Busquets turnover. The Spaniard would commit a foul in a dangerous spot trying to recover, from which Gastón Pereiro forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make a fabulous save. Moments later the hosts fired another shot but again ter Stegen was there make to stop, this time on de Jong.
After the early miscues, Barcelona slowly started to take control of the ball and started attacking, with most of the danger coming down Dembele’s wing, but Jeroen Zoet went untested. But Barcelona were often unsure in possession, Rakitić making a couple terrible turnovers, the second of which led to Pererio hitting the post in the 16th minute. Just seconds later the hosts would try to pounce on another deep turnover, but this time ter Stegen made the save.
Even though Barcelona were controlling the ball, PSV would be by far the most dangerous team and the hosts had another chance in the 24th minute but Pereiro would sent a close-range shot over ter Stegen and over the crossbar.
But Barcelona were starting to press and PSV were struggling to cope with Barcelona. Barcelona’s two best chances came around the 35th minute – both times through Arturo Vidal and both times he had the ball cleared off the line. The first, a cheeky try, was headed away by Pablo Rosario, the second after a corner kick was scrambled away by Angelino. Barcelona’s attacks continued, but finding the opener remained a tough task. In the 40th minute Lionel Messi saw his outside of the area show saved. Two minutes later the same scenario would happen again.
PSV would then have another opportunity to open the scoring from a free kick. The cross was floated in to the far post where de Jong headed the ball into the crossbar. The rebound fell to the other side to Denzel Dumfries, but he too was denied by the frame of the goal. Shortly thereafter the referee whistled to end the half that will be remembered for numerous missed excellent scoring chances.
Barcelona started the second half brightly, quickly creating their first chance of the half, but once again Zoet saved Messi’s perimeter shot. But the hosts would reply quickly, forcing ter Stegen to make a save a couple minutes later. PSV’s pressure continued but Barcelona were somehow still hanging on to a clean sheet.
But then, during PSV’s strongest pressure Barcelona took the lead in the 61st minute. Messi played a one-two with Dembele before the Argentine, in the middle of four PSV defenders somehow managed to get a shot off that beat Zoet near post. Five minutes later the duo combined again, this time Messi setting up Dembele, but the Frenchman’s shot was saved by Zoet.
In the 70th minute Malcom replaced Coutinho and seconds later Barcelona were up by two. Messi send a cheeky low shot/pass free kick into the danger area where Pique redirected the ball onto the opposite post, catching Zoet on the wrong foot.
After a very valiant effort PSV were suddenly in a deep hole and were forced to attack with numbers – and finding success. With 15 minutes left to play the hosts first barely missed the target and moments later Hirving Lozano was denied one-on-one by ter Stegen. De Jong missed the target by about a foot in the 78th minute after a nice cross from the left side.
In the 80th minute, Dembele made way for Denis Suarez. Two minutes later, PSV were finally – and deservedly – on the board. Angelino sent another perfect cross into the area from the left side where de Jong beat ter Stegen to the far post. PSV were immediately back on the offensive amid thunderous cheering from the home-town crowd.
Barcelona were barely hanging on amid a furious flurry from PSV, but could’ve put the game out of reach in the 89th minute when Messi and Malcom went on a counter attack. Unselfishly Messi set up the Brazilian for a chance, but Malcom couldn’t hit the target. It would however turn out that the miss wouldn’t hurt Barcelona as the Catalans held on to win, securing a first place finish with a round of games to spare.