Xavi delighted with Barcelona masterclass as Lazio goalkeeper scores late equaliser

Elsewhere in the Champions League on Tuesday night, Mbappe scored for PSG and Porto beat Shakhtar

Joao Felix scored twice for Barcelona in the 5-0 win over Royal Antwerp in the Champions League. Getty
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Barcelona manager Xavi said Tuesday's emphatic 5-0 win over Royal Antwerp in the Champions League was the best he had seen his team play during his time in charge.

In a 22-minute opening blitz, Barca were 3-0 up following goals from new on-loan forward Joao Fliex, Robert Lewandowski, and an own goal from Jelle Bataille. Gavi then struck the fourth in the second half before Joao Felix scored his second to complete the rout.

After successive group-stage eliminations, Barcelona gave debutants Antwerp a football masterclass to start their Group H campaign in the perfect fashion.

"This is the best football we've played since I've been Barca manager," Xavi said. “We have to keep up this amazing form. Everything was positive and the crowd was right behind us. They went home happy knowing that we gave everything we had.

"But we need to be prudent and keep working hard. However, we're on the right track. We applied deep pressure throughout and played great positional football too."

Joao Felix, once the world's most expensive teenager when he joined Barca's La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid, moved to Barcelona on loan this summer as the Portuguese forward aims to reignite his career, following a frustrating loan spell at Chelsea for the second half of last season.

He has started brightly at Barca with three goals and an assist in his opening three games, and Xavi believes he has the talent to keep getting better.

"I have told Joao Felix that the simpler he plays, the easier he'll find it to score," Xavi said. "He has top individual qualities and is a very smart player. He's enjoying himself here."

Another new arrival who has impressed is former Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan, who moved to Barca on a free transfer in the summer, and Xavi was effusive in his praise for the German midfielder.

"Gundogan makes everything better, It's like he's landed from heaven," the Barcelona manager said. "We play better with that kind of footballer in the team. He's a superb player."

Porto defeated Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 away in the other Group H game. Shakhtar are playing their home games in Hamburg, Germany because of the Russian invasion of their country.

While Joao Felix was starring for Barca, his former club was involved in the most dramatic Champions League match of the evening in Rome, where Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel headed in the team’s equaliser in the fifth minute of injury time to earn a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid with the last action of the game.

Atletico midfielder Pablo Barrios put the visitors ahead in what was a heated game, but the biggest drama came at the end, when Provedel left his area to add support in attack and managed to score with a header from Luis Alberto’s cross.

Also in Group E, Feyenoord had two goals ruled out by VAR for offside and saw a penalty saved in their 2-0 win over Celtic.

Calvin Stengs broke the deadlock in first-half injury time but the home team had to wait till the 76th minute for Iran midfielder Alireza Jahanbakhsh to get the second goal.

Celtic defender Gustaf Lagerbielke was sent off with his second yellow card as he conceded the penalty, and substitute Odin Thiago Holm followed him off with a straight red for a dangerous lunge at Mats Wieffer.

Elsewhere, Kylian Mbappe scored a penalty to break the deadlock as Paris Saint-Germain earned a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund. Achraf Hakimi scored against his former team to seal what was a deserved win.

Dortmund midfielders Marcel Sabitzer and Marius Wolf both left the field with injuries.

AC Milan was held to a goalless draw by Newcastle in the other Group F game.

Updated: September 20, 2023, 6:00 AM