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Barcelona overcome raucous Galatasaray to slide into Europa League quarter-finals

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Barcelona didn’t have it easy against Galatasaray at the Ali Sami Yen, but they did show class and character to make it out of hell alive.

It was predictably tense in the opening minutes, with the crowd drowning out Barcelona’s attacks with ease. Passes were misplaced with frequency and it wasn’t uncommon that Galatasaray would turn those into a threatening counter.

One of those led to the opening goal, as Marcao scored a diving header from a corner. The stadium exploded and so did the corner flag, Marcao destroying it in the celebrations.

Just as things were looking a little hopeless, Barcelona finally put together a slick passage of passes. Pedri had time to shoot, but sat two defenders down first in an act of incredible composure, before slotting home. Half-time approached and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looped a header onto the bar, but there was time for no more.

Just three minutes into the second half, Barcelona had the lead they desperately wanted. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang diverted a shot goalward; Inaki Pena saved from both him and Pedri, but couldn’t keep out the third effort from Aubameyang.

With the lead and without the onus to change the scoreline, Barcelona got comfortable in the driving seat. Pedri and Sergio Busquets were at the heart of matters as they hemmed the hosts in close to their own goal.

None of this pressure told, but Galatasaray’s inability to create at the other end meant a relatively comfortable finish for the Blaugrana. With the exception of Jordi Alba, who picked up a yellow card for booting the ball into the crowd after missiles had rained down on him from the stands. The only sour note was an injury to Sergino Dest, who came off for Ronald Araujo.

Alba’s moment was the largest loss of composure for Xavi Hernandez and his band of merry youngsters. Once more Barcelona overcame adversity. By the time the match ended, the spectre of European nightmares away from home was far from the mind. Barcelona finally appear to be getting rid of their ghosts – next they face Real Madrid.

 



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