Darwin Nunez of SL Benfica celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal with teammates during the UEFA Champions League group E match between SL Benfica and FC Barcelona at Estadio da Luz on September 29, 2021
Two goals from Darwin Nunez and a Rafa Silva strike pile even further pressure on Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman as Benfica beat the La Liga giants 3-0 at the Estadio da Luz.Barca have now lost their first two Champions League group stage games this season and the disappointing defeat will do little to appease the growing section of Barca fans who want to see Koeman sacked.Nunez’s first ever Champions League goal put Benfica into a lead early on (3′) before Silva got a second in the 69th minute.
The Uruguayan forward then compounded Barcelona’s misery from the spot after VAR picked up on a handball from Sergino Dest in the box.The result means Barcelona are bottom of Group E on -6 goal difference and four points off second-placed Benfica with four group games to go.Barca got off to a disastrous start with Nunez giving Benfica the lead just past the two minute mark. Nunez picked the ball up on the left flank, easily jinked past Eric Garcia and smashed his low drive into the bottom corner beyond the helpless Marc-Andre ter Stegen.With the visitors shell-shocked, Benfica could have gone further ahead two minutes later, but Roman Yaremchuk’s one-on-one effort was denied by Ter Stegen who matched the low strike.In a scrappy first half, which saw Gerard Pique subbed off for 17-year-old Gavi as he looked destined to pick up a second yellow, Barcelona’s best chance to equalise came to Frenkie de Jong, but he hit his first-time shot wide at the near post.Benfica should have doubled their lead in the 53rd minute. Ter Stegen made the bizarre decision to sweep up a long pass which Nunez comfortably got to ahead of him, but with the goal gaping his strike came off the post.Benfica did extend their lead, though, and it was Rafa who provided the finishing touch. Joao Mario’s shot from lose range was parried by Ter Stegen into the path of the Portuguese forward, who used the outside of his right foot to turn the ball home.The night did get even worse for Koeman’s inexperienced side, who did not register a shot on target all evening, when Dest left up a flailing right arm inside area. It went to VAR, the spot-kick was awarded and Nunez tucked the ball into the bottom corner to ensure it would be a nightmare evening for Barca’s Dutch boss.Somehow the night took an even worse turn for Barcelona in the final moments as Garcia was shown a second yellow in the 87th minute.
TALKING POINT – HOW LONG HAS KOEMAN GOT LEFT?
Considering Barcelona’s dire financial situation and plethora of uninspiring defenders at his disposal, Koeman has perhaps been overly criticised this season. Barca are still undefeated in the league after all.However, a 3-0 defeat at the Nou Camp to Bayern Munich in their Champions League opener did not go down well at all and this loss will be regarded as a far greater embarrassment. In a match Barcelona were widely expected to win, albeit not easily, they were defensively disorganised throughout, their attack lacked any sort of punch and Koeman’s decision to bring on three teenagers to try and rectify the problem was puzzling. Luuk de Jong reminded everyone he is not Lionel Messi.For Barcelona to finish the game with 10 men and without a shot on target against the Portuguese club who had to go through two qualifying rounds just to play them is beyond disappointing from one of the world’s most treasured football institutions. To be bottom of Group E on -6 goal difference after two games is terrible by Barcelona’s standards and the calls for Koeman to depart will continue to grow this week.
MAN OF THE MATCH – DARWIN NUNEZ
The 22-year-old striker got his first two Champions League goals and he was excellent all evening against Barcelona’s porous backline.It is little surprise the Uruguayan forward was attracting interest from Premier League teams in the summer transfer window as he showcased his pace, power and precision in front of goal on a memorable evening for the undefeated Primeira Liga leaders