Holders Barca win 2-0 to keep hopes alive
November 22, 2006 7:43pm CST
An early strike by Ludovic Giuly and a second-half goal by Andres Iniesta gave holders Barcelona a 2-0 win at Levski Sofia on Wednesday that kept alive their hopes of making the knockout stages of the Champions League. The Catalans, who could have been eliminated, now need to beat Werder Bremen on Dec. 5 to reach the next phase after the German side enjoyed a 1-0 win over English champions Chelsea. Levski remain pointless after five defeats. Barca survived an early scare when lively Hristo Yovov was just off the target after three minutes following a magnificent solo run on the left flank. The Spanish giants got the ideal start in the fourth minute when the home side defence failed to clear Gianluca Zambrotta's right-wing cross and the unmarked Giuly's fearsome shot gave keeper Georgi Petkov no chance. Richard Eromoigbe fouled Eidur Gudjohnsen in a dangerous position but Ronaldinho wasted the opportunity to double Barca's lead after his 18-metre free-kick went over the bar. The visitors' keeper Victor Valdes was forced to show his class twice in space of a minute after a quarter of an hour saving shots from Stanislav Angelov and Yovov. Levski, however, playing their last home match in the group, refused to give up and the veteran Daniel Borimirov's rasping shot from 25 metres went just wide. Barcelona's left-back Silvinho then screwed his diagonal left-footer wide of the post with eight minutes remaining in the first half. Petkov had to make two brave saves just after the interval from efforts by Gudjohnsen and Giuly. Barca doubled their lead on 65 minutes when Petkov failed to hold on to Deco's long-range shot and Iniesta made no mistake from the rebound. The dispirited Sofia-based debutants produced little at the other end, despite the passionate support by their fans, with only French midfielder Cedric Bardon threatening a goal.