FC Barcelona earned a far from convincing 2-1 win at home to a depleted Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday. Lionel Messi scored a penalty kick for the third UEFA Champions League game in a row, in a victory which ensured they maintained their winning start to the group stage.
The Argentine, who had also scored penalty kicks in wins over Group G opponents Ferencvaros and Juventus, tucked away a penalty kick in the fifth minute.
Gerard Pique netted in the second half, glancing in a fine cross from Ansu Fati.
Dynamo Kyiv, who were missing six players due to COVID-19 positive tests, which also afflicted five members of staff, gave a decent account of themselves.
The visitors spurned a couple of chances to equalise, as well as having a goal from a corner-kick ruled out due to the ball going out of play.
They deservedly pulled a late goal back in the 75th minute.
This was when Viktor Tsygankov slid the ball into the net after pouncing on a rebound.
FC Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had only been able to parry a shot from Benjamin Verbic.
The victory put FC Barcelona on the verge of a place in the knockout stages, leaving them top on nine points after three games.
Juventus are second on six points and Dynamo Kyiv and Ferencvaros are with a point each.
FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was visibly anxious on the sidelines and did not attempt to gloss over the sloppy performance.
“We suffered more today than in any other game so far. We need to improve a lot when we don’t have the ball,” said the Dutchman.
“I’m happy with the result but not with certain aspects of our game and luckily we had Ter Stegen around.
“I think we started well and got the goal early and had some clear chances. But, after that, we lost control and they created a lot of danger. Thanks to Marc, who was phenomenal, we held on.”
FC Barcelona went into the match after a disappointing 1-1 draw at Alaves, the fourth game in a row in La Liga which they had failed to win.
They however got off to an ideal start at an empty Camp Nou when Messi converted from the penalty kick spot after being hauled down.
The Catalan side made a blistering start and almost immediately built on their advantage when teenager Pedri clanged the crossbar.
Antoine Griezmann then bungled a simple chance to score a tap-in, inexplicably finding the side-netting when the ball bounced into his path from close range after Fati saw his shot parried.
Dynamo Kyiv should have levelled before half-time when Vitaliy Buyalskyi powered a header at goal.
But he was denied by the strong hand of Ter Stegen, who was making his first appearance of the season after recovering from knee surgery.
“The opponents had too many clear chances and we need to improve in that respect. We need to talk about that,” said Ter Stegen.
His opposite number Ruslan Neshcheret, 18, produced an even more impressive display.
He pulled off an outstanding save from a Messi free-kick while also keeping out later efforts from Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto.(Reuters/NAN)