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Lopez runs show as Barca beat Shakhtar to keep perfect record

Lopez runs show as Barca beat Shakhtar to keep perfect record

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder #32 Fermin Lopez celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Uefa Champions League 1st round Group H football match between FC Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys in Barcelona on October 25, 2023. — AFP pic

BARCELONA, Oct 26 — Barcelona continued their perfect start in the Champions League and warmed up for the Clasico at the weekend with a 2-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

The Spanish champions held off their Ukrainian visitors to take their third win from three games and put one foot into the knock-out stages after failing to progress in the past two seasons.

Ferran Torres opened the scoring for Barca with 20-year-old midfielder Fermin Lopez smashing home the second from the edge of the box.

Heorhiy Sudakov pulled one back for Shakhtar after a Barca defensive lapse, creating a nervy finale for the hosts, but they held on to the three points.


After 17-year-old debutant Marc Guiu struck the winner against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend, Lopez’s display meant it was another fine night for Barcelona’s La Masia talent factory.

“He is a dynamic footballer,” said Barca coach Xavi Hernandez.

“His attitude is amazing, he wants to learn, he wants to improve.”


The coach said Lopez could be the latest in a long line of talents to break through and hold down a place in the team.

“I’m really happy about Fermin’s performance, he can be a significant player for us and play for many years,” added Xavi.

Lopez said he was grateful to have the chance to play for the Catalan giants.

“You never expect this but I’ve been working for it all my life and I’m grateful to Xavi and the club for the chance they’ve given me, I have to keep working,” he told Movistar.

“We won, we got the victory which is what we wanted and now we’ll think about the Clasico.”

Joao Felix went off hurt in the final stages, with another injury the last thing Barca need, but he said on Instagram that he was fine for the Clasico.

“I’m good, it was just a knock! (Now to) recover well and prepare for the next game,” wrote Felix.

Three from three

Barcelona were already without several key players, including Robert Lewandowski, leading Xavi to deploy winger Torres in the middle of the attack.

The former Manchester City player said he was ready to step up a level in an important week for the club, with Real Madrid visiting on Saturday.

He started brightly and hammered home before the half-hour mark after Ilkay Gundogan sweetly teed up Lopez, whose effort came back off the upright.

Lopez, who made his debut in August, rescued Barcelona a draw earlier this season at Real Mallorca and staked his claim for a start against Madrid with his best performance to date, in for the suspended Gavi.

Dmytro Riznyk had saved well from the midfielder early on but could do nothing about his goal, a cannonball strike, in off the post to shore up Barca’s position.

However a defensive lapse set the hosts back. Joao Cancelo was out of position and Oriol Romeu was left in the dust by Sudakov, who finished well at the near post.

It was the first goal Barcelona have conceded in Europe.

Last season the defence was their strong point as they won the Spanish title but this year they have been far less stable.

Lopez hit the post with another long-range effort and then had a header ruled out for offside as he continued his all-action display.

Weathering some pressure, Barcelona took the points as supporters in the stands turned their attention to the impending Clasico.

Shakhtar are third, provisionally level with second-placed Porto on three points, who visit bottom side Antwerp later, while Barcelona lead with nine.

Shakhtar’s new Croatian coach Marino Pusic, appointed on Tuesday, said he was proud of his team’s battling display.

“It’s not such an easy game when you play Barcelona away, (the last 24 hours have been) hectic! One colleague said to me, ‘I know you for one day but I have the feeling I’ve know you for three years’,” said Pusic.

“I’m tremendously proud of all my players today, these guys showed up tonight to compete with Barcelona, one of the best teams in Europe.” — AFP