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Barcelona qualified for the Champions League in the round of 16 with two games remaining on Tuesday when Martin Braithwaite scored twice in the 4-0 win over Dynamo Kiev.
Lionel Messi was among a handful of key players resting for Barca, but Braithwaite’s doubles, as well as goals from Sergino Dest and substitute Antoine Griezmann, ensured the Catalans made it through safely and Juventus emerged from Group G..
The first and second places have yet to be awarded. Barcelona will play at Ferencvaros next week before Juve, who beat Hungary 2-1 in Turin thanks to a late Alvaro Morata winner, play at home.
After scoring high in the first three games, Ronald Koeman took the opportunity to spin as Messi and Frenkie de Jong were completely eliminated from the roster while Jordi Alba and Griezmann were both on the bench.
Instead, Koeman named a youthful cast that included a debut for Oscar Mingueza in central defense, with Francisco Trincao, Pedri and Carles Alena also giving a chance to impress.
There will certainly be tougher opponents than Dynamo to navigate, but Mingueza delivered a composed portrayal and can again be trusted given the current lack of defense at Barcelona.
Braithwaite certainly didn’t hurt his chances by increasing his total goals for Barca from one to three, the first a penalty and a deserved return for his tireless upfront performance.
Victory also continues Barca’s formidable form in Europe, which is in stark contrast to their struggles in La Liga, where they lost 1-0 to Atletico Madrid on Saturday the 12th. Occupy table position.
Dynamo have also been exhausted without their top scorer Viktor Tsyhankov being sick and they have never really threatened their opponents like they did in the second leg last month.
Barcelona dominated the ball in the first half, but couldn’t break through a determined Dynamo defense, even if the home team hardly posed a threat even during the break.
The first gate came from an unlikely source when Dest fired a pass at Alena. While the ball was returned to Braithwaite on the edge of the box, Dest took command, carried it to his crotch, and scored the club’s first goal in the farthest corner.
Braithwaite’s time would come five minutes later when he finished Alena’s corner at the back post and then made it three from the penalty spot after Denys Popov pushed him in the back as he tried to hit Alba’s cross.
Popov had already opened perhaps the best chance for Dynamo at the back post while Koeman made changes to Griezmann, Alba and Riqui Puig.
Puig should have added a fourth, but ran over Dest’s cut ahead of Greizmann to end a lively cameo by pulling in and rounding off a comfortable win.
FC Barcelona, UEFA Champions League, FC Dynamo Kiev, Lionel Messi, Ronald Koeman
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