Barcelona defeated Porto 2-1 at home on Tuesday, earning a spot in the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in three seasons thanks to goals from João Cancelo and João Félix in each half.
Five-time champions Barcelona are back in the round of sixteen after finishing in the top two with one game left, after exiting the competition in the group stage two years in a row.
With 12 points, Barcelona leads Group H. Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk, who will square off on the last matchday to determine who will advance with the Spanish team to the knockout stage, are three points behind Barcelona.
In two weeks, Barca must at least draw with bottom-place Antwerp in order to secure the top spot in the group.
They had to exert a great deal of effort against a courageous Porto team that was superior in the first half, but they were let down by a brilliant display of goalkeeping from Barca’s Iñaki Peña, who came in for the injured Marc-André ter Stegen and made several key saves to keep the home team in the contest.
In the 28th minute, Pena produced a reaction save to save a clear shot from Galeno. Two minutes later, the Porto winger attempted another shot, but Pepê was well-positioned inside the box to finish the rebound and put them ahead.
But two minutes later, Cancelo, having dribbled past João Mário, struck a beautiful curling shot into the top corner to give Barca a response.
Porto didn’t give up and almost got back in front in the 43rd minute, when Pena made a superb one-handed save to palm another Galeno shot from range round the post right before the break.
But Cancelo and Felix came out firing in the second half and Barcelona were transformed with the Portuguese duo causing all kinds of trouble for the visitors’ defence.
Felix unleashed a thunderous strike from range in the 47th minute that crashed against the crossbar and he linked up well with Cancelo, both of whom started their career at the Benfica academy, Porto’s rivals in Portugal.
In the 57th minute, Cancelo secured the victory with a superb run down the left channel, setting Felix up for a clean first-time strike just past the reach of the goalie.