Barcelona continued their perfect defensive start to the season with their fourth straight clean sheet in a 1-0 victory over APOEL. While the Blaugrana controlled the match in every sense, their usually clinical attack looked dull as they failed to create many great chances. None the less, Barca were able to get the one goal they needed thanks to Gerard Piqué late in the first half.
Despite dominating the match from the opening whistle, Barcelona struggled a bit to break down APOEL's stubborn nine-men behind the ball defense. Perhaps it was all the exhaust fumes from the idling bus in front of goal that caused the problems, but it really was only a matter of time before the Blaugrana scored.
The goal arrived in the 28th minute when Lionel Messi sent a free kick into the middle of the APOEL area that floated over everyone, arriving in the ideal spot as Gerard Piqué squeezed through the defense. The Barca defender got his head on the ball and powered it past Ukro Pardo to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
Messi had a brilliant chance of his own to double Barca's lead in the 40th minute when Neymar brought the ball to a dead stop, throwing off his marker, and feeding Messi who was all alone 16-yards out. Messi's shot was palmed away by Pardo, keeping APOEL within a goal.
APOEL nearly got a chance at an equalizer in the 64th minute when they caught Barca sleeping a bit on the counter attack. Despite having a 3-1 breakaway, Gustavo Manduca's attempt to find Cillian Sheridan was poorly executed, and the pass was kicked away for a corner by Dani Alves who made a late recovery.
Munir was denied his first career Champions League goal in the 68th minute after he buried Neymar's headed cross from right at the far post. Unfortunately for the 19-year-old striker, he was in an offside position and the linesman's flag went up immediately. That was Munir's last contribution of the match as we was replaced shortly thereafter by Sandro Ramirez, the third 19-year-old player used by Luis Enrique in the match.
Pardo and the APOEL defense again conspired to deny Barcelona in the 91st minute. Pardo denied Neymar, blocking his shot from the top of the box with his feet, but leaving a big rebound in font of a wide open net. Messi looked set to jump on the ball and make it 2-0 but Mario Sérgio matched him in a footrace and blocked the Argentine striker's shot with a desperate slide.
Barcelona: ter Stegen, Adriano, Piqué, Bartra, Alves, Samper, Roberto (Rafinha 79'), Xavi (Iniesta 61'), Munir (Sandro 69'), Messi, Neymar
Goals: Piqué (28')
APOEL: Pardo, Antoniades, Carlão, Guilherme, Sérgio, Efstathios Aloneftis, Morais, Vunícius, Gomes (Manduca 61'), Sheridan (Djebbour 75'), De Vincenti (Charalampidis 79')