MILAN — Barcelona qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds despite conceding a late equaliser as they drew 1-1 with Inter at the San Siro on Tuesday.
Malcom came off the bench to give Barca the lead with seven minutes remaining, firing under Samir Handanovic after being sent clear by Philippe Coutinho. It was Barca’s 25th shot of the game and it looked like it would be enough to earn them the three points until Mauro Icardi scored an 87th-minute equaliser after some slack defending.
A point was enough to book Barca’s place in the round of 16. That should take the pressure off for their final two games against PSV Eindhoven and Tottenham — although they still have work to do to progress as group winners. It was a good night for Malcom, too. The Brazilian’s not had many opportunities since joining from Bordeaux in the summer, but he took advantage of the 15 minutes Ernesto Valverde gave him in Milan, scoring his first competitive goal for the club.
Barca were actually very good on the night — considering they were once again without the injured Lionel Messi, left out at the last minute — but they struggled in the final third. They ended the game with 26 shots, with Coutinho, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele all guilty of either missing chances or making the wrong decision when it mattered. Valverde will want his attackers to be more clinical moving forward.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Valverde mixed things up by bringing Dembele back into the side and Barca, save for their finishing, were the better side for large patches of the match. The coach’s substitutions also played out in his favour, with Malcom netting minutes after coming off the bench.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 7 — Didn’t have a single save to make in the first half and the only shot Inter had on target was Icardi’s late leveler, which he could do little about.
DF Sergi Roberto, 6 — Tried to join in attacks when he could but lacked a connection with Dembele at times. Struggled in defence and was beaten on more than one occasion by the lively Ivan Perisic.
DF Gerard Pique, 7 — Was commanding in the air as Inter looked to feed Icardi and made one fine challenge on the Argentine in the second half in the penalty box.
DF Clement Lenglet, 7 — Continues to look at home in the absence of Samuel Umtiti. The Frenchman is so confident on the ball and will rightly feel aggrieved if he loses his place when his compatriot returns from injury.
DF Jordi Alba, 7 — Didn’t have as much joy as in recent matches — and looked to be dealing with a knock at times — but was still up and down the left flank all night. Perhaps his biggest contribution was a recovery tackle to end an Inter break.
MF Sergio Busquets, 6 — Was having a good night until Icardi’s equaliser. He failed to deal with a ball into the box, poking it in the Inter striker’s direction and then covering his eyes as the net bulged.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 6 — Was wasteful when in good positions. Took on long shots when he should have passed and missed a great chance, denied by Handanovic from eight yards.
MF Arthur, 7 — Another step forward in his Barca career. Looks made for this team and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine the side without him in the midfield.
FW Ousmane Dembele, 6 — He started well, forcing an early save from Handanovic and working hard, but he faded as the first half grew old. Came close to breaking the scoring after the break with a fizzed effort that nearly beat Handanovic before being replaced by Malcom.
FW Philippe Coutinho, 7 — Back at the club where it all started for him in Europe, he was much more involved than in recent weeks. Ended the game with seven shots, although there were times when a pass might have been a better option. Did brilliant to set up Malcom’s goal, though, spinning his man in the centre circle before picking a perfect pass.
FW Luis Suarez, 7 — Had his chances but was unable to convert them as he continued to take on responsibility in Messi’s absence. Led the line well and was a nuisance all match, but will be growing frustrated by his lack of goals in European competitions.
MF Arturo Vidal, 6 — Came on for Arthur and added some energy in midfield as Barca went in search of the win.
FW Malcom, 7 — It’s been a tough start to life in Spain but he (and the club) will hope he can now kick on after grabbing his first goal since signing in the summer.