Robert Lewandowski scored twice in the final minutes as Barcelona picked up a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Inter Milan on Wednesday, keeping alive dim hopes of reaching the round of 16. of the Champions League.
Barcelona are still on the verge of elimination from the competition’s group stage for the second successive season, but Lewandowski’s equalizing goal in stoppage time gave them a slim chance of advancing with two games to go.
Inter need a win at home against Viktoria Plzen next week to guarantee that they accompany Bayern Munich in the round of 16.
“This Champions League is being cruel to us,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández told Movistar Plus.
“We have to continue and think about the classic (against Real Madrid on Sunday), recover well. We have to think about LaLiga, because the Champions League has become difficult and complicated.”
Until last year, Barca had reached at least the Champions League round of 16 in every season since 2001, but now face the prospect of falling back to the Europa League for the second successive season.
Cheered on by their fans at a sold-out Camp Nou, Barcelona got off to a strong start, with Raphinha at the center of the attack and Inter goalkeeper André Onana making three fine saves from the Brazilian’s shots.
But, like last week in Milan, Inter were strong on the counterattack in the first half and came close to scoring three times.
Edin Dzeko hit the post from close range in the 17th minute, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a long shot saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who also saved Denzel Dumfries in a one-on-one after a counterattack.
In a play initiated by Raphinha on the right wing, the Spanish team took the lead with a point-blank shot from Ousmane Dembélé after a cross from Sergi Roberto five minutes before the break.
But everything changed after the interval, when Nicolo Barella equalized in the 50th minute with a volley from Alessandro Bastoni’s cross, slipping behind the Barcelona defence.
Inter took the lead 13 minutes later with a goal from Lautaro Martínez from the edge of the box that bounced off both posts before going in.
With Barcelona focused on the attack, Lewandowski tied the rebound in the 82nd minute.
Inter regained the lead a minute from time when Robin Gosens finished off a counter-attack, but Lewandowski’s header three minutes later rescued Barça, who are third in the Group C standings with four points, three behind Inter and eight from Bayern Munich.
“Football is a game of mistakes and we didn’t defend well today,” said Xavi.
“Mistakes in the Champions League are expensive. Mistakes in defense have cost us the game.”