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UEFA Champions League: Xavi there, but Barcelona still in danger after draw with Benfica

10:46 AM Nov 24, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

After failing to get the job done at home against Benfica, Barcelona knows it will likely need a win at unbeaten Bayern Munich to avoid its first group-stage elimination in the Champions League in nearly two decades.

Barcelona's hopes of advancing in the top European club competition took a hit with a 0-0 draw against Benfica on Tuesday at the Camp Nou Stadium.

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A win would have guaranteed Barcelona a spot in the knockout stages for the 18th straight season, but it couldn't capitalize on its chances in what was Xavi Hernandez's coaching debut in the Champions League.

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Defender Ronald Araujo thought he had scored the crucial winner in the 83rd but the goal was disallowed for offside.

Benfica had its own chance in stoppage time when Haris Seferovic got past Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen but failed to find the net, sending some Benfica players and coach Jorge Jesus to the ground in despair.

The draw kept the Catalan club in second place in Group E, two points ahead of Benfica, but the Portuguese side has the tiebreaker advantage if it beats already eliminated Dynamo Kyiv at home and Barcelona fails to defeat group winner Bayern in Germany in the final round.

Bayern won 2-1 at Dynamo in the other group match Tuesday for its fifth straight victory in the competition.

“We leave with a sour taste in our mouth because we wanted to seal the qualification spot here at home in front of our fans,” Araujo said.

"We played a good match but couldn't get the goal that would have been key for us to advance. Now it's down to the last game against Bayern, which will be complicated, but not impossible."

Barcelona played well and looked in control from the start even though it didn't create many significant scoring opportunities.

It was Benfica that almost broke the deadlock in the 34th with a powerful header by Roman Yaremchuck that prompted a foot save by Ter Stegen at the goal line. A couple of minutes later, a goal by Nicolás Otamendi didn't stand because Everton's free kick cross went out of bounds in the buildup.

Also Read: Cristiano Ronaldo sends Manchester United into UEFA Champions League Last 16

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