Bayer 04 Leverkusen came from a goal behind to defeat FC Barcelona 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League Group F clash at the BayArena.
It was the introduction of the inspirational Yildiray Bastürk at half-time that changed the game. The Turkish midfielder cancelled out Luis Enrique's first-half effort before Oliver Neuville scored the winner in the 69th minute.
Barcelona in control
The away side were dominant in the first half, with Geovanni causing the Leverkusen defence endless problems down the left side. Patrick Kluivert was revelling in a withdrawn role, feeding both Geovanni and Luis Enrique and it was no surprise when the Blaugrana broke through in the 22nd minute - and no surprise that it was Kluivert's perfectly weighted through ball that found Luis Enrique on the edge of the box. He turned his defender before floating the ball over the on-rushing Hans-Jörg Butt and into an empty net.
The goal stirred the home side into action and, six minutes later, referee Hugh Dallas had no hesitation in giving a penalty after spotting a Sergi Barjuán shove on Michael Ballack. Up stepped regular penalty-taker Butt, but his effort was a good metre past the post. Despite this setback, Leverkusen kept up the pressure and, in the 37th minute, Zoltán Sebescen saw his rasping effort turned away for a corner by Roberto Bonano.
If the first half belonged to Barcelona, there was only one team in it in the second, and it was the presence of Bastürk that changed the game. It took him only seven minutes to find his range, and his unstoppable effort from 22 metres out left Bonano standing watching. Alongside Bastürk, Ze Roberto became increasingly influential, making strong runs down the left hand side that Barcelona struggled to deal with.
With Barcelona on the back foot, and finding it increasingly hard to put an attack together, Leverkusen's confidence grew and grew, and another goal - the winner - came on 69 minutes courtesy of Neuville who swept home Bernd Schneider's cross, which had evaded the statuesque Barcelona defence. Minutes later, it was almost 3-1 when Ballack hit a stinging 25-metre drive that Bonano could only beat away for a corner.
Neuville thought he had doubled his tally in the 87th minute, but all he got for his troubles was a yellow card for using his arm to control the ball. It did not really matter, Barcelona's resistance had been broken and the crowd went home delighted with the three points.
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