Barcelona vs. Benfica: Final score 0-0, Eagles will have to settle for the Europa League

David Ramos

Despite a multitude of chances to get a goal, Benfica simply couldn't find the back of the net and finished third in Group G

Benfica had chance after chance to get the goal that would propel them to the Round of 16 but it simply wouldn't happen as they finished 0-0 against Barcelona. The match was overshadowed by a late injury to Lionel Messi.

The first half was all about missed chances by Benfica. They easily should have been up by at least a couple goals on Barcelona and honestly, it could have been 3 or 4. Barca's makeshift defense, a mix of regular starters and B-team players gave Benfica plenty of opportunities, but the Eages simply couldn't put the ball in the net.

Rodrigo missed the first great chance for Benfica in the 12th minute, beating the offside trap (he was offside according to the replay) and racing in towards goal. José Manuel Pinto went to ground and Rodrigo lofted his shot well wide to the left of goal.

It was Lima's turn in the 20th minute after Nolito found him streaking in towards the Barcelona goal with a pass from the left side of the box. Lima's diving header attempt went just wide of the post, another excellent chance wasted.

Barcelona had their best chance in the 24th minute as Rafinha's sliding chip shot from the right side of goal was looping towards the net, only to be cleared off the line by a Benfica defender.

Benfica missed another brilliant chance in the 35th minute, this time from Ala John. The midfielder collected a cross-field long ball, then left fullback Carles Planas in a heap before inexplicably shooting near post, instead of just placing the ball in the wide open net with Pinto close to the near post. John's shot went wide.

Jorge Jesus and Benfica went to the locker room wondering how they were still scoreless after out-shooting Barcelona 11-1 in the first half. When is the last time that happened to the Blaugrana? Probably never.

Barca were far better in the second half, in large part due to the arrival of Lionel Messi in to the match as a substitute. Possession swung way in to Barcelona's favor as the half went on, but much life Benfica in the first half, they simply couldn't score.

Benfica's best chance of the second half came right after kickoff in the 46th minute. Lima sent a cross in to the box that curled back towards the top of the box, right to Nolito. The midfielder unleashed a shot that went just wide of the far post, yet another frustrating moment for the visitors.

The match finished scoreless but the story was Lionel Messi being carted off the pitch late with an apparent knee injury. Messi went down as he went for goal, appearing to twist his knee. Messi was put on a stretcher and driven off the pitch as he held his arm over his face.

With Celtic's 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow, Benfica drop to third place in the group and will have to settle for a spot in the Europa League.

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