Europa League-bound Barcelona end Champions League campaign with 4-2 win over Plzen

Barcelona's Marcos Alonso, second left, is fouled by Plzen's Tomas Chory during the Champions League group C soccer match between Viktoria Plzen and FC Barcelona at the Doosan Arena in Plzen, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Barcelona closed its disappointing Champions League campaign with a 4-2 win at Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday.

Barcelona had already been eliminated in advance, while Plzen knew it had finished last in Group C. Barcelona ended the group stage with seven points in third place, guaranteed of a spot in the Europa League playoffs.

Ferran Torres scored twice and Marcos Alonso and teenager Pablo Torre grabbed a goal each for the Catalan club. The hosts got on the board with a pair of goals by Tomás Chorý.

Barcelona’s only other group-stage victory had been 5-1 against Plzen in their opener. It then lost 2-0 at Bayern Munich and 1-0 at Inter Milan, which both advanced to the next round. Bayern beat Inter 2-0 at home on Tuesday for its six straight victory in the group.

A 3-3 draw at home against Inter then meant Barcelona needed the Italian team to stumble in its final matches, which didn’t happen. Barcelona also lost 3-0 at home to Bayern.

It was the first time since 1999 that Barcelona failed to advance to the knockout stage in consecutive years, coinciding with the departure of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain two seasons ago.

This season’s failure to advance was a humbling setback after Barcelona went on a spending spree to boost its squad in the hope of recovering some of that money with a deep run in the European competition. But not even the addition of the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha were enough in the Champions League.

Lewandowski was not in the squad on Tuesday because of a minor back issue.

Barcelona has its focus on the Spanish league, where it trails Real Madrid by one point at the top of the standings. It has won 10 of its first 12 league matches. 

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