MX23RW : Wednesday, January 23 03:51:16

Valverde happy with result as Barcelona qualify for last 16 of Champions League

Valverde happy with result as Barcelona qualify for last 16 of Champions League
© Reuters
The visitors drew 1-1 with Inter Milan.

Ernesto Valverde declared himself happy after Barcelona qualified for the Champions League last 16 following a 1-1 draw at Inter Milan.

Barca, who would have sealed first place in Group B with a victory at the San Siro, grabbed the lead in the 83rd minute through substitute Malcom’s strike.

Mauro Icardi then levelled four minutes later as the visitors dropped points in the pool for the first time.

Barcelona boss Valverde was quoted by Marca as saying in his post-match press conference: “We wanted to close out our lead, we did everything possible, but we’re happy because we managed to qualify.

“We played a great game, the quality of Inter is that they know how to handle themselves very well.

“They have earned many points in the last moments of matches.”

Lionel Messi was once again not involved, as for Barca’s previous four matches.

Messi, who has been recovering from a fractured arm, returned to training last week and had travelled with his team-mates to Italy.

Valverde said of not including the Argentinian in his matchday 18: “We didn’t want to take a risk with Leo.

“We were careful in training, but we knew that today’s match would be like how it was.”

While Barcelona are through with 10 points from four games, second-placed Inter have seven points and Tottenham, up to third after beating PSV Eindhoven 2-1, have four.

The next round of matches sees Barca travel to PSV and Inter take on Spurs away.

Valverde added with regard to the Italians: “They have a clear strategy, which is to always attack and be aggressive with their pressing.

“I don’t know what route Inter or us will have after tonight, but of course they are a team to consider, they have the DNA of never giving in and they will take that spirit into the Tottenham match.”

Inter boss Luciano Spalletti praised his side for the reaction to Malcom’s goal.

“We wanted to put in a performance that the fans could appreciate and the team responded in the right way,” said Spalletti, quoted on Inter’s official website.

“We were brave and we performed in line with what the crowd wanted.

“It seemed as though the match was going to finish 0-0. Their goal came in an unexpected fashion but our reaction was vital.

“The boys didn’t let up and the fact that Icardi went straight to get the ball after scoring the equaliser shows the character and mentality of this team.”

Spalletti added: “Qualification is in our hands, but we can’t let up in our remaining matches. We must go to London to get a result, convinced of our own abilities.”


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona20144256213546
2Atletico MadridAtletico20118130131741
3Real Madrid2011363024636
4Sevilla209653122933
5AlavesAlaves209562223-132
6Getafe208752516931
7Real Betis208572525029
8Valencia2051141918126
9Real Sociedad207582524126
10Levante207583235-326
11EibarEibar206772428-425
12GironaGirona205962326-324
13Espanyol2073102130-924
14Athletic Bilbao2041152126-523
15Leganes205781824-622
16Real Valladolid205781723-622
17Celta Vigo205693234-221
18Rayo Vallecano2055102436-1220
19Villarreal203982126-518
20Huesca2025131739-2211

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