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Lewandowski saves Barcelona drowning in an exciting draw for Inter

Robert Lewandowski (right) managed to save as Barcelona avoided an early exit from the Champions League for the time being

Barcelona (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski scored two late goals to save Barcelona from elimination in the Champions League in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Inter Milan on Wednesday at the Camp Nou.

The Polish striker pulled Xavi Hernandez’s level 2-2 in the 82nd minute and then again 3-3 in stoppage time with a lofty header, after Ruben Goossens put the Italians ahead with one minute left.

Barcelona’s fate in the Champions League is no longer in their hands though and they still face a second consecutive elimination from the group stage if Inter Milan win at home by eliminating Viktoria Plzen on October 26.

Being on the cusp of another game so early is an early knockout for the Catalans, who had been hoping a summer signing deal involving Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski could reclaim their place among the European elite.

“It was our mistakes tonight, the game was in our hands, we had it in Munich, we had it in Milan and we have it here today,” Xavi said.

“We depend on another team to go through. They are our mistakes, and we have to improve them. That is the truth. The (improvement) process is longer than we thought in Europe.”

“There are other competitions, the La Liga, the King’s Cup, the Super Cup. We have to insist, insist, believe.”

The hosts made the early run but Lautaro Martinez fired a warning shot into the side netting in the counterattack, with Inter sitting deep but ready to attack forward.

Lewandowski, in search of his first goal in three matches, was cleared by a header from the goal line and at the other end hit the crossbar by Edin Dzeko.

Ravenha was frustrated with a wide shot but his work rate proved decisive as Barcelona broke the deadlock. The Brazilian winger chased a ball into the corner and unleashed Sergi Roberto, who cut the ball through Dembele to shove it into the net from close range.

– Barcelona’s mistakes are costly –

Inter Milan midfielder Ruben Goossens scores his team’s third goal against Barcelona

Inter flew on goal in the first half and quickly produced a goal of his own, scoring in the 50th minute after Gerard Pique played past Nicolo Parilla and hit the Italian ball into the net.

The Inter midfielder slipped behind Pique, who waved a cross in front of him, towards Ter Stegen, not reading Barilla’s move.

The defender, 35, was starting his first Champions League game of the season, with Barcelona paying the price for injuries to Jules Conde, Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen.

“They didn’t start playing enough in the second half, that’s a training error,” Xavi said.

“When you draw at home with these fans, in this atmosphere, it’s my fault. I’m angry. My feeling is that this competition has been, and still is, tough with us.”

He was the last of the squad’s veterans to give the ball away from Inter’s second goal, as Sergio Busquets grabbed the ball with a stray pass. Hakan Calhanoglu found Martinez, left Argentine striker Eric Garcia to die and netted through the post.

“We made mistakes that you can’t make at this level,” Garcia admitted.

Lewandowski eventually scored with a skewed kick on the second attempt after substitute Alejandro Balde found him in the area.

Goossens thought he had given Inter the qualification and eliminated Barcelona when he hit a late cross from Martinez, in another counterattack, but Lewandowski had other ideas.

The striker’s towering header saved Barcelona from a certain elimination, but their future in the competition still hangs by a thread.

“I think Barcelona is a very great team with a great coach. The problem is that Barcelona met Inter in these matches, Inter are at the right level, organized and firm,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi.

In the second half we played well and deserved to win the match. We created many chances, hit the crossbar, and saved some big balls.”

There is only so little time for Barcelona to pick themselves up and dust themselves off. On Sunday, Real Madrid appeared at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga.

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