Royal Antwerp Surprise Barcelona – In a surprise home victory, Royal Antwerp defeated Spanish giants Barcelona 3-2 securing their first points in Group H. Though the win did not help Royal Antwerp in the points table, it provides a moral boost to the side.
Teenager Arthur Vermeeren put Antwerp ahead in the opening 90 seconds but Barcelona equalized 10 minutes before halftime through Ferran Torres.
Antwerp regained the lead early in the second half, with a Vincent Janssen. They maintained this advantage until stoppage time when 17-year-old Marc Guiu attempted to thwart their home celebrations with a late equalizer.
George Ilenikhena, brought off the bench when the match was into the last 10 minutes of regular time, converted a throughball from Jelle Bataille with a left foot finisher in the 93rd minute of the game.
Despite fielding a lineup with rested regulars, the Spanish club had already secured a top-two position on the points table before Wednesday’s game. FC Porto’s 5-3 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the other group game confirmed Barcelona as the group winners, despite their defeat to the Belgian club.
Barcelona came into the game with seven changes made to the side that lost to Girona in La Liga on Sunday. The Spanish club’s loyal fans and soccer pundits felt that the side did not take the match and their Belgian opponents seriously.
A terrible team effort from Barcelona was on display, falling short and leaving much to be desired. They now trail seven points behind their Catalan neighbors in the race for the coveted title. The Spanish side will need to up its game as they head to the last-16 stage of the UEFA Champions League.