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6 December 2012
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: S. Moen
• Attendance: 50659
That's all from me for tonight guys and girls. Thank you for joining me! Good night!
FULL-TIME: BARCELONA 0-0 BENFICA. A goalless draw at Camp Nou means that Celtic accompany Barcelona into the knockout stages after they beat Spartak Moscow 2-1 in Glasgow. Benfica wasted a host of chances to win the game here, but failed to take their opportunities in front of goal. Worrying times for Barcelona though, as Lionel Messi was carried off on a stretcher with what looked like it could be a serious knee injury.
90' + 5'
And there is Benfica's performance summed up in one shot from Pereira- the right-back hammering a shot high over the bar from close range. Jorge Jesus' side have had a number of chances to test and beat Pinto tonight, but have shown no killer instinct in front of goal, and now it looks like it will cost them.
90' + 4'
The corner is headed away by Planas though, as Benfica fail to trouble Pinto. Now they have a throw-in on the right though, Pereira to take...
90' + 3'
Up come the defenders to attack the set piece...
90' + 2'
Benfica are pushing forward as Barcelona struggle to clear their lines and they have won a corner here!
90' + 1'
There will be five minutes of added time here in Barcelona!
GROUP G UPDATE: Spartak are down to 10 men following Kim Kallstrom's red card. Celtic still lead 2-1 in Scotland. They and Barcelona progress to the knockout stages as things stand
Into the final minute of normal time...
WONDERFUL FROM DEULOFEU!! The Barcelona sub dribbles at goal from the left before curling a shot just wide of the right-hand post. That was a superb run, he carried the ball about 40 yards before getting that shot away.
The 25-year-old is carried off the pitch on a stretcher, and it looks like that will be the end of his involvement tonight. Barca are down to 10 men for the last few minutes, which will suit Benfica as they need a goal!
Messi is down clutching his leg... This does not look good.
CHANCE FOR MESSI!! Artur pushes Messi wide after he latches on to Pique's pass. The Argentine still manages to get his shot away from a tight angle, but it is caught beneath the crossbar of the Benfica goal by Artur.
The Portuguese team need to push forward now, they need to create chances, and they haven't got long to do it.
GROUP G UPDATE: CELTIC HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD. Celtic 2-1 Spartak Moscow. Benfica are going out as things stand...
A wayward pass from Benfica's Gomes results in a throw-in for Barcelona deep inside their own half.
While Barcelona were lining that set piece up they made their final change of the evening, bringing on the outrageously talented Gerard Deulofeu for Tello. Exciting times ahead for this young lad.
Poor from Messi... Honestly! The attacker's free kick is straight at Artur, who stands in the centre of his goal and catches the Argentine's effort.
Yellow Card Nemanja Matić
FOUL ON MESSI! Matic gets a yellow card after chopping Messi down 30 yards out. Another free kick opportunity for the home side.
It looks like a 4-5-1 with Cardozo upfront by himself for the visitors for the last 15 minutes or so. Could that come back to bite them?
GROUP G UPDATE: It remains Celtic 1-1 Spartak Moscow, which means Barcelona and Benfica go through as things stand.
Classic. As soon as I say that, on comes their top goalscorer this season, Oscar Cardozo.
Benfica are playing a risky game. They go through courtesy of a better head-to-head record against Celtic with a draw tonight, and are showing no signs at the moment that they are pushing for a win here.
Messi is too good. If anything. The forward dribbles past about six Benfica players before slipping a pass into the box but a deflection takes it away from Thiago and Pique who are both waiting to receive the ball.
Messi has a chance to notch his 85th goal of 2012, but his curling free kick from 30 yards goes high over Artur's crossbar.
I've no idea how Pereira hasn't been booked yet. The Benfica right-back has given away a handful of free kicks in this game, with the latest for an awful tackle on Pique. Still, the referee keeps him out of his little black notebook though.
Barcelona look far more dangerous with Messi on the pitch. The Argentine lifts a lovely ball into the path of Montoya on the right, but the likely recipient of his cross, Thiago, loses his footing at the vital moment and Pereira is able to head the ball away.
Montoya attempts to slot an own goal past Pinto from a tight angle but the Barcelona goalkeeper is able to parry the shot and collect it in his arms.
Barcelona's No. 10 must wait before he can take the free kick though, as Pique is brought on to replace Adriano.
Messi's first real input in this game is to win a free kick 40 yards from goal after being pulled back by another robust challenge from Matic.
Cesar looked superb for Benfica against Spartak Moscow a couple of matchdays ago, and with his side's performance dipping in quality in this second half he might be the player to provide the spark to change that.
Jorge Jesus makes his first change of the evening, replacing Nolito with Bruno Cesar.
Benfica win a free kick in exactly the same position but on the opposite side, and this time force Pinto into making a save. The Barcelona goalkeeper thwarts Luisao on this occasion, with the Benfica captain heading straight at Pinto.
Yellow Card Adriano
Adriano is penalised for a high challenge on Nolito, with the makeshift centre-back shown a yellow card for his troubles. Benfica waste the chance to test Pinto from the free kick, as Puyol heads the ball away.
Yellow Card Luisao
HEEEEEERE'S MESSI!! On comes the Argentine superstar for Barcelona. Rafinha makes way.
I'm not sure what Villa had in mind there! After racing through on goal onto a pass from Tello, the former Valencia man looked to chip the ball towards the back post despite being one-on-one with Artur.
More idiotic defending, this time from Garay. The centre-back is rightly shown a yellow card for a block on Roberto, and Barca have another set piece.
Yellow Card Ezequiel Garay
Tello rinses Pereira on the left but cannot get a cross away under pressure from Luisao, with Villa screaming for a pass on the penalty spot.
COMFORTABLE FROM ARTUR!! The Benfica goalkeeper watches Villa's curling shot all the way and shifts to his left to pat the ball down before gathering it safely in his arms.
No Messi, so Villa lines this one up...
AWFUL TACKLE FROM PEREIRA! After testing Pinto with a decent shot just moments ago the full-back lands his side in it by fouling Tello in a very dangerous position and gifting Barcelona a free kick.
Benfica move the ball forward quickly through John, and it eventually lands at the feet of Pereira. The right-back unleashes a rising shot from outside the box that is heading towards the top corner but for a smart stop from Pinto in the Barca goal.
WASTEFUL FROM TELLO!! There's that side to Tello I mentioned earlier. The Barca youngster plays a pass straight to Garay as the home side threaten down the left, and Benfica are given the opportunity to break on the counter.
Yellow Card Rafinha
The volume inside Camp Nou has just shifted up a notch, and now we know why. Lionel Messi is warming up on the sideline guys and girls. Will he be introduced and given his chance to break Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year?! We will see...
A decent block from Luisao stops Villa's driven shot from testing Artur, after the Spain striker had been played in on goal by a neat through ball from Alex Song.
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR BENFICA!! Nolito curls a shot just wide! The away side continue to attack following the break, and it is the former Masia man Nolito that misses the target this time, as his measured shot drifts wide of the left-hand post.
Benfica get the ball rolling to start the second half, but immediately surrender possession and then give away a free kick for a foul on Sergi Roberto inside the centre circle.
Surely, we're going to see Oscar Cardozo at some point in the second half for Benfica? They go through as things stand in Group G, but should Celtic take the lead against Spartak Moscow that would all change. Barcelona have looked below-par with a much-changed starting XI, and now is as good a time as any for Benfica to score goals against them and break their 30-year duck against Spanish opponents.
HALF-TIME: Barcelona 0-0 Benfica. The away side's coach Jorge Jesus is fortunate to have a full head of hair, as he has been tearing some out in the first half at Camp Nou, with his players guilty of missing a host of chances to take the lead against a youthful Barcelona XI. John, Lima and Rodrigo have all wasted opportunities to score for Benfica, with the Barcelona defence looking shaky in the opening 45 minutes. Despite their profligacy in front of goal, Celtic drawing 1-1 with Spartak Moscow elsewhere in Group G means Benfica will progress alongside Barcelona if both scores remain the same.
45' + 1'
The referee blows the whistle for half-time, with the score 0-0.
Pinto dives to his left to gather a long-range strike from Gomes, as Benfica continue their search for goals as we approach half-time in this tie.
Yellow Card Nolito
Thiago dusts himself down to take the set piece, curling a fine pass onto the head of Villa. The attacker is offside yet again, though it makes little difference as his header was off target anyway.
Cynical from Nolito! The Benfica No. 9 is shown a yellow card after he pulls Thiago back as the midfielder tries to drive into an attacking position on the right.
GROUP G UPDATE: Celtic 1-1 Spartak Moscow. The away side have equalised elsewhere in the group, which means Benfica will go through as things stand.
Tello, who often frustrates the hell out of me with his lack of end product, has actually been fairly assured in possession tonight. On this occasion he passes the ball straight into the path of Villa as he rushes into the Benfica box, with the experienced striker at fault as Luisao picks the ball off his toe.
Matic goes hurtling into a tackle with Sergi Roberto in the centre circle, and is adjudged to have fouled the Barca man by the referee Svein Moen. Free kick to the home side.
Nolito has shown a few touches of class in the opening 37 minutes for Benfica against his former club. He certainly looks like he has a point to prove, having left the Catalan side on a Bosman-ruling back in 2011.
You can't help but feel Oscar Cardozo, the clinical Paraguayan named on the bench for Benfica tonight, would have put away at least one of the opportunities that his side have missed in this first half.
CHANCE FOR JOHN!! A marvellous cross-field pass from Melgarejo finds John on the right, and after turning Planas inside-out he fires a shot into the side netting, as Benfica waste another glorious chance to take the lead.
LIMA HITS THE POST!! After being played through on goal by Nolito, the Benfica forward cuts on to his right foot before curling a shot towards goal that Pinto tips onto the left-hand post. Another let-off for Barcelona!
Barcelona's defence has been all over the place in the opening half an hour. Nolito receives the ball on the left for Benfica, and even he thinks he is offside, but after realising Puyol has played him onside he slips a pass through to Lima.
Horrible touch from Rafinha. Barcelona look to launch a quick counter attack after a Benfica move breaks down but the young attacker puts an abrupt stop to that with an awful piece of control on the halfway line.
GREAT BLOCK FROM ADRIANO! The full-back-turned-winger-turned-centre-back does very well to stop John's cross from reaching Rodrigo, with the Benfica forward poised and ready to shoot inside the Barca box had the ball come his way.
Rafinha is starting to cause the Benfica defence problems here, with his latest escapade resulting in a free kick for the home side.
Alex Song is often lambasted for being fairly poor at passing but he's pulled out some delightful efforts in the opening 25 minutes here. He played Tello in just a few minutes ago, and has now just switched the play brilliantly from right to left with a pass to Villa.
GARAY CLEARS OFF THE LINE!! Tello breaks down the left before swinging a cross to Rafinha at the back post. The youngster does well to connect with the pass and send it goalwards, but Garay is there on the line for the away team to head the ball to safety.
GOOD PLAY FROM ARTUR!! The Benfica goalkeeper does enough to put Cristian Tello off as he bursts through the away side's defence following some slack play from Luisao, with the Barca forward overrunning the ball and it rolling out for a goal kick.
GROUP G UPDATE: Celtic 1-0 Spartak Moscow. Gary Hooper has given Neil Lennon's side the lead in Scotland, which means Benfica are going out as things stand...
Benfica win the ball back in midfield and quickly fashion an attempt at goal from Lima. Nolito brings the ball down superbly on the left before crossing to Lima, but his header from close range flies just wide.
John whips the set piece towards Garay but Pinto is there to rush from his line and punch the ball away.
Crucial header from Montoya! The right-back heads the ball behind for a corner to the away side under pressure from Lima inside the Barcelona penalty area.
STAT: 14 of the 18 players in the home team's squad for tonight's game played at their academy. The only ones who didnt: Pinto, Adriano, Song, and Villa.
Some neat footwork from Thiago keeps Barcelona in possession of the ball in midfield, as they look to turn the tide following a decent spell from Benfica.
Lima should have passed left there! The ball should have been played to the overlapping Melgarejo but instead the Benfica forward switches it right and the move breaks down. There was a lot of space for the full-back had the ball come his way.
Benfica have been on top in the last few minutes, with both Andre Gomes and Lima having further shots, following Rodrigo's disappointing miss.
Not sure where Puyol and Adriano were as Rodrigo raced through on goal there, he had acres of space to run into and take his time to get a shot away.
RODRIGO MISSES A BRILLIANT CHANCE!! The former Madrid man curls a shot inches wide of Pinto's right-hand post after having nigh on the whole Barcelona half to himself after latching on to John's pass from midfield. That was a HUGE chance to give Benfica the lead!
Rafinha has had to do a lot of work with his back to goal in the opening 11 minutes here, as Garay and Luisao step up and press the Barcelona forward whenever he receives the ball from his team-mates. He's appealed to the referee for a free kick twice now but has had no joy in that regard.
Two former Real Madrid players start for Benfica tonight: Ezequiel Garay and Rodrigo. I reckon they might enjoy a good result against Madrid's arch-rivals this evening, don't you?
THAT. WAS. CLOSE... Villa is again called back for offside after latching on to a pass from midfield, and this decision is far from clear cut. Maxi Pereira looked to be playing the striker onside at right-back, but the away side get the benefit of the doubt from the officials on this occasion.
Adriano drives forward from centre-back with the ball at his feet for Barcelona, and is allowed to carry it a long way before shifting it into the path of David Villa on the edge of the Benfica box. The Spain international has slightly mistimed his run though, and is flagged offside by the linesman on the near side.
A nonchalant volleyed pass-back from Martin Montoya to Pinto causes the Barca goalkeeper to jump and chest the ball to keep it in play. That was nearly a very cheap corner!
Benfica win an early corner after some good work by Ola John on the left. The midfielder fires it towards the far post but it is too long for Nemanja Matic, although his team-mate does do well to win a throw-in on the far side off the legs of the young Barcelona full-back, Carles Planas.
What a night for Thiago and Rafinha by the way! The two brothers line up together for Barcelona for this match.
Just the 30 years since Benfica last beat Spanish opponents... They could do with ending that drought tonight, with their qualification aspirations hanging by a thread.
The two side's captains Luisao and Carlos Puyol have exchanged pleasantries in the centre circle, and now Barcelona get us underway.
The teams are in the tunnel here at Camp Nou, and we are just minutes away from kick-off!
Subs: Lopes, Luisinho, Jardel, Almeida, Cesar, Gaitan, Cardozo
Benfica (4-4-2): Artur; Pereira, Garay, Luisao, Melgarejo; Matic, Gomes, John, Nolito; Rodrigo, Lima
Subs: Valdes, Pique, Gomez, Dos Santos, Busquets, Messi, Deulofeu
Barcelona (4-3-3): Pinto; Montoya, Puyol, Adriano, Planas; Song, Thiago, Roberto; Rafinha, Villa, Tello
Anyway, without further ado, here are the two side's line-ups for tonight's game:
The MASSIVE team news ahead of this one is that Lionel Messi, he of 84-goals-so-far-in-2012-fame, is on the bench for the Catalan giants tonight. I wonder what is going through the little Argentine's head in the last few minutes before kick-off, he's just one goal behind Gerd Muller's 1972 record of 85 in a calendar year, but Barcelona only have a handful of games left in 2012...
My name is Charlie Scott and I am the lucky devil assigned with the job of bringing you updates from this match as it unfolds over in Spain. As ever, feel free to interact with me at any point during proceedings this evening by posting your thoughts in the shiny comments box in our impressive Match Centre.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of tonight's Champions League Group G clash that sees Barcelona play host to Benfica at Camp Nou.
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