Barcelona overcame a stuttering display to edge out Sporting 1-0 in the Portuguese capital.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both wasted excellent chances in the opening 45 minutes, but Ernesto Valverde’s side were fortunate to score a 49th-minute winner through Sebastian Coates’ own goal.
Here is our player ratings…
Rui Patricio 6 – Didn’t have many saves to make but was composed and reliable in everything he did.
Piccini 6 – Embarked upon some good forward runs but occasionally struggled to contain Alba.
Coates 5 – Couldn’t really have done anything about his own goal but looked error-prone with his heavy touch causing problems.
Mathieu 8 – Several timely interventions against his former club. Clearly playing with a chip on his shoulder and did himself proud.
Coentrao 5 – Made an excellent block to deny Messi but had little involvement in general play and was substituted.
Hernandes 7 – Led his team’s attacking challenge, producing some excellent constructive touches, but missed his team’s best chance.
Battaglia 6 – Positioned just in front of his back four but didn’t always protect them particularly well.
Carvalho 6 – Strong, powerful and skilful in the first half, but faded after the break.
Martins 5 – Some flashes of skill but little end product, and often forced onto the defensive by Alba.
Doumbia 5 – Made little impression before getting himself a yellow card for a dive which also saw him injure himself and depart.
Acuna 4 – Very poor. Most of Sporting’s attacking play came down the right and he barely featured.
Dost 5 – Came on shortly before the break for Doumbia but was unable to significantly contribute, well contained by Pique and Umtiti.
Cesar 6 – An improvement on Acuna on the left wing but nothing particularly decisive.
Silva 6 – Replaced Coentrao at left-back and looked steady enough.
Ter Stegen 7 – Only had one real save to make but it was a very good one to deny Fernandes, securing yet another clean sheet.
Semedo 7 – Solid return to Portugal for the increasingly authoritative right-back, who showed attacking intent and defended his wing well.
Pique 6 – Some shaky moments in the early stages but improved as the game went on.
Umtiti 8 – An absolute tower of strength in the heart of Barca’s defence. Nothing got past him or through him.
Alba 8 – Barca’s second-most dangerous attacking threat after Messi. Made several excellent penetrating runs and defended well against Martins.
Roberto 6 – Playing on the right of midfield in a 4-4-2, showed plenty of energy at both ends of the field.
Rakitic 5 – Subdued performance from the Croat, who played too deep to offer an attacking threat and misplaced too many passes.
Busquets 8 – Completed far more passes than any other player and kept his team’s possession game calmly ticking over.
Iniesta 7 – Some wonderful touches, and the universal respect he commands was shown by the standing ovation he received from Sporting fans as he was substituted.
Messi 7 – As always Barca’s greatest source of danger. Disappointed not to have made more of two first-half chances, but delivered a great free-kick for the winner.
Suarez 5 – Had a poor first half but improved after the break and was in the right place to contribute to the winner.
Paulinho 6 – Came on for Iniesta with ten minutes remaining and helped shore up the defence as well as missing a good chance to make it 2-0.
Andre Gomes and Aleix Vidal. Brief run-out at the end.