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Barcelona cruise into quarters

Published: Tuesday 11 March 2003, 22.50CET
FC Barcelona 2-0 Bayer 04 Leverkusen Javier Saviola and Frank de Boer seal Barça's place in last eight.
Published: Tuesday 11 March 2003, 22.50CET

Barcelona cruise into quarters

FC Barcelona 2-0 Bayer 04 Leverkusen Javier Saviola and Frank de Boer seal Barça's place in last eight.

FC Barcelona secured their place in the UEFA Champions League as winners of Group A with a 2-0 victory against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Camp Nou.

Notable absentees
Despite missing a number of key players through injury - including captain Phillip Cocu, Carlos Puyol and Luis Enrique - goals in either half from Javier Saviola and Frank de Boer secured a comfortable victory for Radomir Antic's side and sealed a fifth successive defeat in the second group stage for the away side.

Early chances
Although Leverkusen coach Thomas Hörster rested a number of key players ahead of Saturday's 1. Bundesliga game against VfL Wolfsburg, Leverkusen began brightly, and might twice have taken the lead in the opening 15 minutes. After eleven minutes, Jan Šimák's low free-kick was spilled by Roberto Bonano, but the Barcelona goalkeeper recovered quickly to deny Cris's follow-up, before Patrik Andersson then blocked Dimitar Berbatov's effort on the line.

Berbatov close again
The Bulgarian striker had another good chance to put the away side into the lead four minutes later, as França picked up a loose ball in midfield and found Berbatov who, with defenders and Bonano closing in, could only lift his shot over the crossbar.

Saviola on the scoresheet
Two minutes later, Barcelona were in front, as Marc Overmars, who had looked threatening every time he had possession, burst down the right and picked out Saviola who, with time and space, beat Leverkusen goalkeeper Hans-Jörg Butt with a low right-footed shot from near the penalty spot.

Clear opportunities
Xavi Hernández came close to doubling the advantage five minutes later, as he found himself with a clear sight of goal from the edge of the penalty area, but could only shoot straight at Butt. However, the home side had taken control of the game after a slow start and should have made it 2-0 four minutes before half-time when a superb passing move gave Juan Riquelme a shooting chance but, with only Butt to beat, he hesitated for a split-second, allowing the Leverkusen goalkeeper the chance to turn his low effort behind with his outstretched right foot.

Kluivert denied
Barcelona continued in similarly positive fashion after half-time, and might have doubled their lead three minutes into the second period, as Riquelme did well down the left and sent a low cross into the penalty area which Kluivert met at the near post, but Butt blocked his effort.

Deflected goal
The Leverkusen goalkeeper was called into action again a minute later, when Riquelme's low shot from 30 metres forced him turn the ball behind. However, the relief was brief, as Xavi's corner was met by the head of De Boer, and the ball looped into the net with the help of a big deflection off Thomas Kleine.

Late action
The goal effectively sealed the result as both teams seemed to settle for the scoreline, although Leverkusen substitute Thomas Brdaric might have pulled a goal back in added time but sent his angled effort narrowly wide.

Last updated: 12/03/03 13.42CET

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