How Barcelona’s talent factory continues to thrive

Thirty-three seconds. That is all that 17-year-old Marc Guiu needed to score on his debut for Barcelona last month. His mother was in tears. Xavi was vindicated. Just the latest example of the club’s trust in La Masia, their famed academy, being rewarded.

There is Gavi and there is Pedri, there is Lamine Yamal and there is Fermin Lopez. Now, there is Guiu. His Instagram account had 44,000 followers before that kick of the football. Within hours, it had topped one million. Another overnight success story, or so it seems.

The truth is a little different.

Barcelona's Marc Guiu celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, at the Olympic Stadium of Montjuic in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort )
Marc Guiu’s breakthrough goal against Barcelona was a decade in the making

“Now, everybody is talking about Marc Guiu,” Albert Capellas tells Sky Sports. “But he arrived at the club 10 years ago when he was seven years old. That means that the club has had to wait 10 years before he could play for the first team. It is a long time.”

Capellas spent more than a decade working in Barcelona’s academy himself. He was there when Xavi, Andre Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and, of course, Lionel Messi, transformed the game and showed that could be done with a team built around academy graduates.

He does not talk of coaching those greats but learning from them. “I trained Iniesta for several years and I always say that Iniesta came into this world to show us how to play football. It is the same with Busquets. You do not correct them. They show you the way.”

And yet, he knows how difficult it is to go on that journey through Barcelona’s academy. Especially when it is so tempting for clubs to opt for a quicker fix. “In football, you do not get time, and that makes these long-term projects more difficult to achieve,” says Capellas.

“This is why it makes sense for clubs to start with a different strategic model to Barcelona. Because when they sign players at 16, if they are very good they can play for the first team in a few years. You can get the advantage from your investment very quickly.”

With Guiu, considerable patience was required. “When he was young, he could not play because he had problems growing. He had pain in his knees and there was a long period, from the age of 13 to 15, when he could not train and he missed a lot of games.”

That could have been that if the culture had been different. “At a lot of clubs, if you cannot train or play, you have to leave the club. At Barcelona, we know the level of the players. We give them time. We do not take these crazy decisions on young players.”

Perhaps it is that longevity at La Masia that helps make the difference in the end. A teenager signed from elsewhere might be a surer thing, but they would not be steeped in the style of play, the philosophy and values that Capellas and others take such pride in.

“Johan Cruyff showed us the way to have success,” he explains.

“There are a lot of things involved when we talk about DNA. The first team, the academy, the way of developing young players, the way of playing, the way of thinking, the way of making decisions, the way of scouting. Cruyff changed everything at the club.

“The first thing that he changed was the winning mentality of everyone at the club. When he arrived, we were happy to win one cup every two or three years. The second thing is that he was there eight years. That is a lot of time to show everyone how he thinks.

“All of the academy teams were playing in the same way as the first team, with the same concepts, the same way of thinking, the same drills, the same exercises. After eight years of everyone working in the same direction, you could see how powerful that was.

“It is one thing to tell a player to scan around. It is another to create an environment in training that you force the players to scan around. Because in football, it is not about what you know, it is about what you do. What we create in Barcelona is an environment.

“Everybody knows that you need a good body shape, for example. The difficult thing is to make it happen. At Barcelona, we train in a way that our players learn how to position themselves better. To instil this in their muscle memory so that it becomes automatic.”

The result is that what might appear from the outside to be the biggest step is more straightforward than it might appear. Ansu Fati scored within a week of his debut aged 16. Lamine was the same age when he was man of the match in just his second start.

Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski, left, celebrates with Lamine Yamal after scoring his side's fourth goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Villarreal and Barcelona at the Ceramica stadium in Villarreal, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Barcelona youngster Lamine Yamal celebrates with Robert Lewandowski

“Barcelona are never afraid to give opportunities to players from the academy because they are educated in the club’s way of thinking so when they arrive to the first team, it is very easy for them. They have lived with this kind of pressure all of their lives.

“When I would talk to players from the academy who were given their chance in the first team, they would say, ‘Albert, it is much easier than playing for the academy.’ Of course. You are surrounded by better players and you are a good player so it is easy for you.

“When you get the ball, the other players are always available in open lanes for the passes. When you receive a pass, it is always a good pass. Never a bouncing ball. Always to the correct foot with the right timing. Look at Marc Guiu’s goal against Athletic.

“Why did he have success? Because he had Joao Felix next to him who could see the pass at the right time with the right speed. That is why he had the chance because he had the players around him. Of course, he still had to finish the chance and he did it well.”

Marc Guiu scored the winner against Athletic Bilbao on his Barcelona debut aged 17
Marc Guiu scored the winner against Athletic Bilbao on his Barcelona debut aged 17

Capellas returned to Barcelona for a third stint within the academy in 2021, working closely with this current crop of young talent, before departing once more. Barcelona will always be his club. Which explains his stance when that DNA is questioned.

Former player and manager Ernesto Valverde did just that earlier this year, suggesting that the Cruyff DNA was overplayed. “Having had him as a coach leaves its mark on you,” said Valverde.

“But the DNA thing is a bit of a myth. When a good player emerges, they say, ‘He has Barcelona DNA’. When there is a bad player, ‘That one doesn’t have the DNA’.”

Those words caused a stir in Catalunya.

“I understand his comment because when I watched his team play when he was coach of Barcelona he was not playing that Barcelona style,” says Capellas.

“It was a good style and he won trophies. He had some success. Fair enough. It is not a problem. But it is not the way that we play football at Barcelona. In the period of Valverde, he did not give opportunities to the young players. That is also not our style.

“What I cannot accept is when he says it is a myth. It is not a myth. It is very important for us and we believe in it profoundly and deeply. It is not a problem for me that he feels that way. What I do not accept is that he undervalued what is happening in La Masia.”

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Albert Capellas explains how Barcelona prioritise scanning and body shape

What is happening at La Masia is that another wave of talent is emerging. Capellas is excited about the “exceptional” Lamine. “I do not want to compare him to Iniesta or to Messi but I can say that he is a very special player who will make the difference in football.”

Guiu has different qualities. “He is not a player with unbelievable dribbling skills but he is a finisher who can run from deep. He is fast, powerful, very good at heading, very competitive. He is exceptional in his position and has the right mentality, a fantastic boy.”

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Kaveh Solhekol dissects why Barcelona president Joan Laporta is under investigation

Given the financial restrictions at Barcelona, could the academy be their salvation again? “Without money, the academy is even more important. Our best periods have always been the same way. Fifty per cent from the youth team supplemented by the best.”

“It is not just about having the idea, you have to convince the people around the club, build the story, build the values of the club. Not just with coaches but with scouts and parents and agents, everyone. You have to create a culture. That takes years and years.

“When the bad moments come and you do not have success, you lose years if you change direction. If that does not work and you want to come back to the original direction, you have lost years too. It is about staying strong when things are not going well.”

And then, after 10 years, or 33 seconds, you receive your reward.

CL round-up: Giroud scores winner as Milan beat PSG | Shakhtar shock Barcelona

Olivier Giroud’s powerful header early in the second half gave AC Milan a 2-1 Champions League home win over Paris Saint-Germain in a pulsating Group F contest on Tuesday.

Former Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar had put PSG ahead but their advantage lasted only three minutes before Rafael Leao netted an acrobatic equaliser and Giroud then sealed a precious victory just after the break in front of 75,649 supporters at the San Siro.

Milan Skriniar had given Paris Saint-Germain an early lead
Milan Skriniar had given Paris Saint-Germain an early lead

The game was played at a frenetic tempo in the first half with end-to-end action and, while the pace inevitably slowed in the second period, it was an absorbing clash in which Milan had to hold on at the end as PSG piled on the pressure.

Milan now have five points from four games in third behind second-placed PSG with six points. Leaders Borussia Dortmund have seven points after winning 2-0 earlier on Tuesday at home to Newcastle who are bottom on four points.

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 Barcelona

Danylo Sikan’s towering header gave Shakhtar Donetsk a stunning 1-0 victory against LaLiga champions Barcelona in their Group H fixture.

It was a disappointing display from the Spanish side who won their first three games in the competition and needed one point to book a place in the last 16 with two games remaining.

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez made several changes to his starting line-up and, despite dominating possession throughout the match, struggled against a well-organised Shakhtar defence, earning only one shot on target in the game.

The Ukrainian side, playing in Hamburg, were aggressive on the counter-attack, with Sikan giving them a shock lead against the five-time European champions in the 40th minute.

Shakhtar Donetsk beat Barcelona
Shakhtar Donetsk beat Barcelona 1-0 to keep their qualification hopes alive

The 22-year-old forward jumped behind defender Andreas Christensen to meet a Giorgi Gocholeishvili cross from the right touchline and nodded the ball just out of reach of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barca goal.

Barca were unable to threaten opposition goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk until Xavi made four substitutions at once in the 60th minute, with Joao Felix and Lamine Yamal coming off the bench to give the visitors a much-needed spark.

However, Shakhtar held firm against some late pressure to seal the three points.

FC Porto 2-0 Antwerp

Porto stayed on course for a place in the last 16 with a 2-0 home victory over 10-player Antwerp thanks to Evanilson’s first-half penalty and veteran Pepe’s late header in Group H.

Brazilian Evanilson, who had netted a hat-trick when Porto beat the Belgians 4-1 away in their previous meeting last month, tucked away a 32nd-minute penalty after a clumsy foul by Gyrano Kerk on Stephen Eustaquio.

Porto's Evanilson celebrates scoring his side's first goal during a Champions League Group H soccer match between Porto and Antwerp
Evanilson scored Porto’s first goal in their home win over Antwerp in Group H

Porto dominated the game after Antwerp midfielder Jurgen Ekkelenkamp was sent off seven minutes into the second half.

However, despite their numerical superiority, Porto had to wait until one minute into stoppage time for their second goal, headed home by the 40-year-old Pepe.

The result sees Porto move level on nine points with leaders Barcelona, with both sides three points ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk.

Antwerp’s fourth consecutive defeat means they have no chance of a top-two finish, even with two matches left to play.

Red Star Belgrade 1-2 RB Leipzig

Goals from Xavi Simons and Lois Openda gave RB Leipzig a 2-1 win against Red Star Belgrade in Group G to secure a place in the knockout stages.

Leipzig took the lead after eight minutes when Simons found space inside the box and curled a superb shot into the right corner for his second Champions League strike, having also scored against the Serbs a fortnight ago.

Leipzig's team players celebrate after Xavi Simons scored the opening goal during the Group G Champions League soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and RB Leipzig
RB Leipzig celebrate Xavi Simons’ opening goal against Red Star Belgrade

The visitors were dominant and could have doubled their lead before half-time, but Red Star keeper Omri Glazer twice denied efforts from Openda.

The Belgium international, however, found the net in the 77th minute in a blow to the hosts, who had looked more aggressive in the second half.

Red Star pulled one back through Benjamin Henrichs’ own goal in the 81st minute but they could not find a leveller and fell to a third defeat in four games.

The German team remained second with nine points, three behind leaders Manchester City, who beat Young Boys 3-0 to qualify for the next round. Red Star are on one point, the same as the Swiss side.

Lazio 1-0 Feyenoord

A first-half goal by Ciro Immobile handed Lazio a 1-0 home win over Feyenoord to move Maurizio Sarri’s side up to second in Group E.

Lazio captain Immobile put the hosts ahead in first-half stoppage time after he rounded visiting goalkeeper Justin Bijlow and struck low from a tight angle towards the far post for his 200th goal for the Italian side.

Lazio are second on seven points from four games, one point behind leaders Atletico Madrid who hammered Celtic 6-0 in the other group fixture.

Dutch side Feyenoord, who came into the game top of the standings, dropped to third on six points.

How did the British sides get on?

Messi wins record eighth Ballon d’Or | Bonmati claims women’s award

Argentina forward Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or for a record-extending eighth time, while Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmati claimed the Women’s Ballon d’Or.

Messi, now at Inter Miami, led his country to World Cup glory last year as he lifted the trophy for the first time and won the Golden Ball award for the best player of the tournament in Qatar.

The 36-year-old reclaimed the Ballon d’Or from France’s Karim Benzema to add to his wins in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021.

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Peter Smith is joined by Joseph Shread to discuss whether or not Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane are the best players in the world right now

The former Barcelona forward’s victory increases his lead over five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo. The 38-year-old Portugal international, who plays for Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr, was not on the shortlist for the first time since 2003.

How Messi led Argentina to World Cup glory

  • Scored opening goal of first game in shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia
  • Scored first goal of second game in vital 2-0 win over Mexico
  • Scored opening goal in 2-1 Round of 16 win against Australia
  • Scored, assisted and converted penalty in quarter-final shootout win over Netherlands
  • Scored opener and wonderfully assisted third in 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia
  • In the greatest final of them all, Messi scored twice and assisted another before converting in the shootout to help Argentina prevail over France

Messi left European football at the end of last season as he moved from Paris Saint-Germain, where he won the Ligue 1 title in both seasons, to join MLS team Inter Miami.

Lionel Messi wins 2023 Ballon d'Or
Lionel Messi has claimed a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or

Messi claimed the 2023 Ballon d’Or in Paris ahead of Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, who scored 52 goals last season to help City land the treble, with PSG and France forward Kylian Mbappe, just the second man to score a World Cup hat-trick, finishing third.

Haaland did not leave the Ballon d’Or ceremony empty-handed after landing the Gerd Muller Trophy for his record-breaking goal haul last season.

Meanwhile, his team Man City were named the men’s club of the year for a second year running after winning the Treble.

Bonmati claims Women’s Ballon d’Or for first time

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Aitana Bonmat.. of Spain wins player of the tournament during the Women's World Cup Final football match between the Spian and England at Stadium Australia on August 20, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Damian Briggs/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
Spain’s Aitana Bonmati won the Golden Ball for the best player at the 2023 Women’s World Cup

Barcelona midfielder Bonmati won the Women’s Ballon d’Or for the first time as she helped Spain to maiden World Cup glory in August and won a league and Champions League double at club level.

Bonmati won the Golden Ball for the best player of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, while she was recently named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year.

The 25-year-old became the second Spanish player to win the Women’s Ballon d’Or after Barcelona compatriot Alexia Putellas was awarded the prize for the last two years.

Bonmati beat Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr to the award, while England and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps finished fifth in the voting after winning the Golden Glove at the World Cup.

England's goalkeeper Mary Earps holds the Golden Glove trophy after the final of Women's World Cup soccer between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
England goalkeeper Mary Earps won the Golden Glove trophy at the World Cup

Fellow Lionesses Rachel Daly (10th), Millie Bright (11th) and Georgia Stanway (23rd) were among the nominees for the fifth edition of the women’s award, with Arsenal and Republic of Ireland’s Katie McCabe finishing 22nd.

Meanwhile, Bonmati’s team Barcelona won the women’s club of the year award after they won the Champions League and Spanish league title last season.

Aston Villa’s Martinez wins best goalkeeper award

Emiliano Martinez arrives on the red carpet for the Ballon d?Or ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France. Picture date: Monday October 30, 2023
Emiliano Martinez won the Yashin Trophy at the Ballon d’Or event in France

Argentina and Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez won the Yashin Trophy for the best goalkeeper in the world.

Martinez claimed the award ahead of Manchester City’s Ederson for his heroics at the World Cup last year to help his country lift the trophy.

The 31-year-old became the second Premier League goalkeeper to take home the Yashin Trophy after its inception in 2019, with the inaugural award won by Liverpool’s Alisson Becker.

Bellingham gives Real last-gasp win at Barca | ‘Extraordinary Jude like a veteran’

Jude Bellingham scored twice, including an injury-time winner, as Real Madrid fought back from a goal down to beat Barcelona 2-1 in El Clasico.

Barcelona made the perfect start with midfielder Ilkay Gundogan opening the scoring from close range in the sixth minute by taking advantage of a bad defensive mistake by the visitors.

However, Barca, who hit the woodwork twice, were punished for failing to convert their dominance into goals as Bellingham made the most of the two chances he had in the second half.

First he unleashed an unstoppable strike from range into the upper-left corner in the 68th minute and then, in stoppage time, he scored the winner after collecting a Luka Modric pass inside the box.

Jude Bellingham

They were Bellingham’s 12th and 13th goals in 13 games in all competitions since he joined Real Madrid this summer, including a Spanish league-leading 10 goals in 11 matches.

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti said on Bellingham’s contribution: “We’re all surprised by the amount of goals Jude has scored. He’s incredible, extraordinary.

“He seems like a veteran. He has a very good attitude.

“The equaliser changed the entire dynamic. We became stronger and had more energy and Barcelona started to get weaker – they had played better until that moment.”

The win sees Real Madrid remain top, level on 28 points with second-placed Girona, with Barcelona in third place, four points back.

How Real fought back to stun Barca…

Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham, left, celebrates with Real Madrid's Antonio Rudiger, centre, after scoring his side's opening goal during the La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Bellingham was Real Madrid’s match-winner with his double against Barcelona

Barca took the lead on six minutes when Gundogan combined with fellow former Manchester City player Ferran Torres and calmly fired past Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Vinicius Junior spurned a chance to level and Barca almost doubled their advantage when Fermin Lopez struck the post.

Real also hit the woodwork when Dani Carvajal drove against an upright before the break.

Lopez hit the post again early in the second half and Kepa reacted quickly to deny Ronald Araujo on the rebound.

Real began to rally in the latter stages with Aurelien Tchouameni having a powerful drive touched on to the frame of the goal.

Bellingham then took charge of proceedings when he brilliantly curled home a shot from 25 yards.

The game could still have gone either way and Robert Lewandowski had a chance to put Barca back ahead when he fired over 10 minutes from time.

It was Bellingham who was to have the final say, however. The 20-year-old was once again in the right place at the right time as he pounced to clip home after a Carvajal cross that was flicked on by Modric

Rolling Stones Jagger and Wood attend Clasico

Rolling Stones stars Sir Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood attended El Clasico.

The singer and guitarist turned up at the Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium for the match, to see the home side Barcelona wearing special shirts featuring the band’s logo.

Barcelona are playing their home matches at the venue this season while their Nou Camp stadium is being remodelled.

The Catalan side’s players wore special shirts for the game featuring the Rolling Stones’ famous ‘hot lips’ logo in place of the normal shirt sponsor. The shirts were also on sale.

Before kick-off, Barcelona displayed a mosaic of burgundy and blue along with a huge Rolling Stones logo.

Barcelona, who have a sponsorship deal with audio-streaming service Spotify, have worn special shirts for recent ‘Clasicos’ featuring the logos of Spanish pop star Rosalia and Canadian rapper Drake.

Meanwhile, Madrid had a bit of fun with the alliance between the Stones and Barcelona
after the game. It posted an image of Bellingham with the message: “The Beatles were always my favourite band” on X.

Bellingham’s fans have often sung Beatles hit Hey Jude to praise the player.

Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood attended El Clasico
Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood attended El Clasico

Jagger and Wood attended Barcelona vs Real Madrid  to see the home side wear special shirts featuring the Rolling Stones' logo.
Jagger and Wood attended Barcelona vs Real Madrid to see the home side wear special shirts featuring the Rolling Stones’ logo

A logo of the English rock band Rolling Stones seen on the Barcelona's Joao Felix's shirt during the La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Barcelona’s Joao Felix in the shirt with the Rolling Stones’ logo

‘Modric changed the game’

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti:

“We were too slow in the first half. We were not very aggressive, not very forceful in the duels. At half-time, I told the players that sometimes we lose. But not like this. We had to play with more energy and passion.

“We were way better in the second half, more aggressive. Just better. We didn’t want a draw. We wanted to win.

“Luka [Modric] changed the game, absolutely. He kept the ball and controlled everything. He changed the game.”

Gavi: We deserved to win the game

Barcelona midfielder Gavi:

“We deserved to win the game from start to finish.

“It’s a shame about those two moments when they scored their two goals. The league season is very long, and we must keep going.

“It’s all about fine margins. Their first goal made the difference in the game. We can’t afford to be so unfocused in those situations.”

What’s next?

Barcelona visit Real Sociedad in LaLiga next Saturday; kick-off 8pm. Meanwhile, Real Madrid host Rayo Vallecano on Sunday at 8pm.

CL round-up: PSG beat toothless Milan, Barca edge Shakhtar

Another Kylian Mbappe moment of magic and Randal Kolo Muani’s goal helped PSG beat a toothless AC Milan 3-0 at the Parc des Princes to go top of Group F.

Mbappe broke the deadlock with a clever low shot before the break, before Kolo Muani doubled the advantage in the second half after some fine play by their France team-mate Ousmane Dembele.

Lee Kang-in added a third in the last minute for good measure.

PSG got off to an aggressive start but were outnumbered in the midfield and struggled to free themselves from Milan’s pressing play.

They managed once, however, to take the upper hand in the midfield when Zaire-Emery powered through to find Mbappe, who beat his defender and found the back of the net with a low shot into the corner on 32 minutes.

Dembele celebrated what he thought was his first goal with PSG soon after, but his effort was ruled out for a preceding foul by Manuel Ugarte.

Dembele did not give up, however, and then created Kolo Muani’s goal five minutes later as his shot was deflected by Milan ‘keeper Mike Maignan into the path of his compatriot, who slotted it into the empty net.

Milan threatened at times, notably through Christian Pulisic, but Gianluigi Donnarumma was enjoying a good day, also tipping Rafael Leao’s effort away to keep a clean sheet.

Mbappe had another couple of chances but was twice denied by Maignan, who was at his best to make two great saves.

Lee then scored his first PSG goal in the last minute when he connected with a Zaire-Emery cut back as the French U21 midfielder completed a man-of-the-match performance.

Starlet Lopez strikes again as Barca edge Shakhtar

Fermin Lopez scored one and made the other in Barcelona's narrow win over Shakhtar
Fermin Lopez scored one and made the other in Barcelona’s narrow win over Shakhtar

First-half goals from Ferran Torres and Fermin Lopez helped Barcelona to a 2-1 win against Shakhtar to keep up their perfect start in Champions League Group H.

The locals dominated from the start despite missing several key players due to injury and suspensions, and they opened the scoring in the 28th minute with a Torres volley on the rebound after 20-year-old Lopez’s strike from close range crashed against the woodwork.

The goal was initially ruled out for a hint of an offside in the build-up, but a VAR check confirmed Lopez’s involvement had been legal.

Without the injured Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Sergi Roberto, Frenkie de Jong, Jules Kounde and Pedri, and with midfielder Gavi suspended for a red card in Barcelona’s win against FC Porto, manager Xavi Hernandez called up eight academy players including Lopez, who is becoming a regular in the first team.

He caused all kinds of trouble for Shakhtar and extended Barca’s lead in the 36th minute, unleashing a thunderous shot which ricocheted off the left post on its way in.

Barca then missed several chances to stretch out their lead, with Lopez hitting the post twice more and having two goals ruled out by VAR for offside.

Shakhtar midfielder Georgiy Sudakov stroked in a tidy finish on the counter in the 62nd minute to narrow the deficit, but Barcelona held on despite late pressure to secure their third win in three games.

Feyenoord move top of Group E with Lazio win

Feyenoord's Santiago Gimenez scored twice in their 3-1 win over Lazio to send them top of Group E
Feyenoord’s Santiago Gimenez scored twice in their 3-1 win over Lazio to send them top of Group E

Feyenoord beat visitors Lazio 3-1 on Wednesday thanks to a double from Mexico’s Santiago Gimenez and a strike from Ramiz Zerrouki to move top of Champions League Group E.

The Dutch champions could have taken the lead in the 25th minute when Gimenez’s effort was disallowed after a VAR review, but he had another shot five minutes later from Mats Wieffer’s pass which flew into the top corner of Ivan Provedel’s net.

Gimenez scored on his debut in Europe’s top club competition to become the second Mexican player to do so after Edson Alvarez for Ajax against Lille in 2019.

Feyenoord, European champions in 1970, doubled their lead before half-time when midfielder Calvin Stengs cut inside and set up Algeria international Zerrouki to shoot home.

Gimenez grabbed his second from a rebound from Quinten Timber’s shot in the 74th minute but Lazio claimed a consolation when Marcos Lopez fouled Valentin Castellanos and Pedro Rodriguez converted the penalty seven minutes from time.

Evanilson scored a hat-trick for Porto - despite starting on the bench
Evanilson scored a hat-trick for Porto – despite starting on the bench

Striker Evanilson came off the bench to score a hat-trick as Porto rallied from a goal down to beat hosts Royal Antwerp 4-1 in Group H on Wednesday.

Antwerp took a first-half lead when Alhassan Yusuf swept home a shot from the edge of the box, but Porto were level seconds after halftime through Evanilson’s deflected strike.

Porto hit the front when Stephen Eustaquio placed his shot into the far corner of the net, before Evanilson completed his hat-trick with a volleyed finish and a sublime chip to net his third.

RB Leipzig strengthened their hold on second place in Group G with a 3-1 victory over Red Star Belgrade.

The hosts grabbed the lead in the 12th minute when Red Star lost possession in their own half and the Germans launched a quick, five-touch passing move which ended with David Raum drilling in with his left foot for his first Champions League goal.