Progress with authority (0-3)
FC Barcelona ensured that they progressed to the next round of the Champions League as group winners after a convincing victory against Panathinaikos on Wednesday thanks to two goals from Pedro and another from Lionel Messi.
Athens (FCB).- The Blaugrana took their league form into Europe once again and the competition's famous tune before kick-off lifted the players and they produced another strong performance. Mixing a serious approach with moments of flair and excitement Pep Guardiola's side avoided a Greek tragedy in Athens and found the net when it mattered to see off the threat from their hosts. Panathinaikos needed something from the game in order to keep their hopes of remaining in Europe alive, but the loss means that they cannot lift themselves out of fourth spot in the last match.
Before the game there was talk of the atmosphere that Barça would face in the Olympic Stadium and the home fans put on a show, but that did not affect the visitors. Instead, long periods of possession by the away team silenced the supporters while the Panathinaikos side sat back and tried to keep their opponents out. Occasionally, the hosts did push forward on the counter-attack and Cissé did have a one-against-one with Víctor Valdés and the keeper was forced to produce a good save with 20 minutes on the clock. That did prove to be Pana's best chance of the evening.
Adriano then went close after being named in the team late on, but Alexandro Tzorvas denied him. In minute 27 the deadlock was broken as Dani Alves pushed the ball through as crowd of players and Pedro ran onto to before beating the keeper. Barça looked to build on the lead, but chances were few and far between and the team had to be precise when they came. David Villa had an opportunity and Pedro another before the break but a second goal would not come.
The game continued in a similar manner after the break as Barça employed a mixture of patience and pragmatism and began to find more and more space. Adriano again tested the hosts' keeper with an almost identical chance to his first effort. Panathinaikos did not heed the warning though and just after the hour mark Andrés Iniseta combined with Adriano before finding Messi, who scored his sixth Champions League goal of the season.
Within seven minutes Barça had a three-goal cushion as Alves was again involved as he found Iniesta on the left of the area and Pedro met his cross to convert for his second of the evening. With the result put beyond doubt the home fans put on a show but that did not help their side as they bowed out of the competition and missed out on a place in the Europa League. For Barça the focus now turns to el clàsico as Real Madrid are next up in Camp Nou and the team's confidence remains high after this latest European triumph.
0-1 Pedro (min 26)
0-2 Villa (min 62)
0-3 Pedro (min 69)