Jennifer Hermonose gave FC Barcelona a cushion for the second leg of the last 16 as her goal fired them to a 1-0 victory over Eredivisie side FC Twente. The thin scoreline does not reflect a dominant display from Barcelona, but it does credit the Dutch side's defensive bravery.
The are familiar in these circumstances, having met in the last 16 of the UEFA Women's Champions League last year. There was no twist in this tale as both previous meetings ended with the same scoreline.
Possession play prevails
Barcelona opened up their bid to progress in the last 16 in style. Jennifer Hermoso graciously flicked the ball over the Twente defence in the penalty and when the effects of gravity worked on the ball, she met it with a strike that warrants a place in the Champions League - lobbing it straight over Twente's keeper Barbara Lorsheijd.
As is the Barca way, the home side used their usual short passes to penetrate the Twente final third. When the danger was reciprocated, Ruth Garcia and Line Røddik had it covered and Barcelona could resume their dissection of Twente’s back line.
Time went on and Barcelona kept on amping up the pressure as they gained access to threatening positions , but the Dutch counterparts seemed happy to play the counter-attack game. Siri Worm in particular managed Barca’s pacey Marta Torrejón, not granting any of her sharp crosses access to the box.
Second half brings much of the same
The first half went into the break as a game that had lost momentum but started up again with a little bit more ferocity. Twente’s attacking force looked more prepared for the challenge of coming back from a goal deficit, making crucial interceptions - yet unable to muster clear cut chances for themselves.
There was an own goal scare as Maruschka Walrus almost tipped Andressa Alves’ precise cross past her own keeper. After the fine goal scoring opportunity, a similar pattern from the first 45 minutes fell into place.
Playmakers Alves and Alexia Putellas very much shaped how the Catalan outfit looked going forward with lengthy passes, frightening crosses and creating chances for themselves. Alexia did not get her chance, despite her efforts, as she was taken off in return for Ivory Coast international Ange Nguessan.
Barcelona had a certain cohesion in their passing and attacking runs that made the chances of a Twente comeback look slimmer by the second. Manager Xavi Lloren’s decision to trade Olga Garcia in for Latorre paid off as she forced her way in front of goal and into the back of the net. Unfortunately, Barca’s lead did not double as the referee ruled a freekick for a handball.
Latorre went close again with another one-on-one with Twente's shot stopper but the low, curling hit was not enough as Lorsheijld confidently put her hands to it.
Lloren's tactical decision was not the only one to have immediate impact as Tommy Stroot traded Maud Roetgering in for Kristina Erman, who almost immediately delivered a devastating cross - only to have Barca's defence sweep it away with relative ease.
The game fizzled out in the final few minutes. Twente tried to make a difference but were simply outclassed throughout the pitch by their opposition, frustrating themselves into stifled chances.
After two minutes of lifeless additional time, it was confirmed that Barcelona will visit Twente at De Grolsch Veste with a third consecutive 1-0 victory behind them.