Barcelona, Oct 21 (IANS) Barcelona clinched their first points of the 2021 Champions League campaign with victory against Dynamo Kiev.
Ronald Koeman made a number of attacking changes as his side went in search of a second, but replacements Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho both spurned opportunities after the break. Sergiño Dest and Luuk de Jong were both denied by visiting goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan in the early first half action.
It was Gerard Pique’s 36th-minute goal that gave Barcelona the nervy 1-0 win at home to Dinamo Kiev to keep alive their hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League last 16.
The central defender peeled off and found space to smash home Jordi Alba’s cross from the left to give his side the lead in a game they had to win after losing 3-0 to both Bayern Munich and Benfica.
Until that moment the fans in a Camp Nou stadium that again failed to attract 50,000 supporters had begun to show their frustration, after seeing Dest and Luuk de Jong miss chances to put the Catalans ahead.
De Jong was preferred in attack to Fati, who coach Koeman had said before the game was still not fit enough to start three games in a week, and the big Dutch striker had a complicated first half, reports Xinhua.
He headed wide from six metres out after 18 minutes, and seven minutes later rose to meet a Memphis Depay corner, but once again failed to hit the target.
Dest was also guilty of missing a header before firing straight at the keeper when he had the goal at his mercy.
Fati and Philippe Coutinho came on for De Jong and Oscar Mingueza for the start of the second half to allow Dest to drop back into defense and Fati went close with an overhead kick.
Kiev struggled to create much in attack, although Pique did well to block an effort from Viktor Tsyhankov following a set-piece.
Coutinho had a good chance to ensure the win for Barca with just under 20 minutes to play but sliced his effort wide, although Barca held on for a win which, although far from convincing, means they keep their Champions League hopes alive ahead of Sunday’s ‘Clasico’ against Real Madrid.