Champions League round-up: Neymar and Luis Suarez combine and devastate
Roma edge Bayer Leverkusen as Gent shock Valencia and Zenit and Porto both win
Barcelona’s Neymar celebrates a goal against Bate Borisov at Camp Nou. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters
A Neymar double and a clinical finish from Luis Suarez handed Barcelona a comfortable 3-0 victory over Bate Borisov that put them on the verge of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League for the 12th consecutive season.
The Brazilian beat keeper Sergei Chernik with his spot-kick after 30 minutes following a foul on substitute Munir El Haddadi by Filip Mladenovic.
Neymar was the provider for Suarez who slotted home into the corner after 60 minutes.
Suarez then crossed for Neymar to slide the ball home after 83 minutes.
The pair have been the driving force behind Barca in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi and now have 13 goals between them from five games.
“Obviously we miss Leo, he is the best in the world but I am going through a good run at the moment,” Neymar told reporters.
“We are very pleased with the victory. For the third goal I made a long run for the ball and half the goal has to go to Suarez for the pass.”
AS Roma squandered a two-goal lead but recovered to beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 following a late Miralem Pjanic penalty on Wednesday to move into second place in Group E.
The Italian side moved on to five points, five behind leaders Barcelona and one ahead of third-placed Leverkusen following their first win of the group stage.
Roma exposed the visitors‘ defensive frailties with goals from Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko inside the first half hour, but Leverkusen levelled six minutes into the second period after a quickfire double from Admir Mehmedi and Javier Hernandez.
However, an 80th-minute penalty scored by Miralem Pjanic - following Omer Toprak‘s goalline push on Salah - earned the visiting captain a red card and secured victory for the home side.
Belgian champions Gent stayed in the race for the second spot of Group H by beating an innocuous Valencia 1-0 at home.
Gent are now in third spot with four points, Valencia are second with six points.
Itching to forget their outing in Valencia, where they lost by scoring two own goals, Gent put pressure on the visitors from the start, with Laurent Depoitre having a first effort on goal in only the second minute.
The much deserved goal came in the 49th minute when Sven Kums converted a penalty awarded after Antonio Barragan touched the ball.
Zenit St Petersburg qualified for the last 16 when Artem Dzyuba‘s double gave them a 2-0 win at Olympique Lyon, leaving the French club on the brink of elimination.
Dzyuba scored either side of the interval as Zenit stayed top of Group H with a maximum 12 points while OL are bottom on a single point.
Third-placed Gent have four points after beating Valencia, who have six, 1-0 at home.
Two second-half strikes from substitute Felipe Pardo inspired Olympiacos to a 2-1 victory over 10-man Dinamo Zagreb, sending the hosts six points clear of third-placed Arsenal in Group F.
The visitors drew first blood in the 21st minute when Armin Hodzic nodded in from the middle of the box, but after missing a penalty early in the second half, Olympiacos drew themselves level thanks to Pardo’s 65th-minute strike.
Dinamo were reduced to 10 men with 11 minutes left to play when Josip Pivaric picked up his second booking of the match, and Olympiacos made the most of their man advantage, with Pardo netting in the 90th minute to seal all three points.
Porto edged closer to a spot in the knockout rounds with a comfortable 3-1 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in Group G on Wednesday, which ended the Israeli side’s faint hopes of reaching the last 16.
Despite Maccabi showing some flourishes in front of an enthusiastic home crowd in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, the Portuguese visitors were too strong for their Israeli hosts.
Cristian Tello, Andre Andre and Miguel Layun scored for Porto, while Eran Zahavi registered the Israeli outfit’s first goal in the competition after three previous defeats in the group.