Football: Barca leave Messi on the bench and qualify with 0-0 draw at Juventus

Juventus' Argentinian forward Paulo Dybala (centre) speaks with Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi at the end of the match.
Juventus' Argentinian forward Paulo Dybala (centre) speaks with Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi at the end of the match.PHOTO: AFP

TURIN, Italy (REUTERS) - Barcelona allowed themselves the luxury of starting with Lionel Messi on the bench and still held out for a 0-0 draw at Juventus to reach the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday (Nov 22).

Barcelona, who brought on Messi early in the second half, enjoyed long spells of possession but used it as a defensive tactic to stop Juventus attacking rather than creating chances themselves.

Juve were lacklustre, with forward Gonzalo Higuain barely getting a look-in, although they nearly snatched a win in stoppage time but Paulo Dybala's low shot from the edge of the area was turned around the post by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The Serie A side, who are second in Group D, will qualify for the last 16 unless they lose at Olympiakos in their final game next month and Sporting beat Barcelona away.

Sporting kept alive their own hopes by beating Olympiakos 3-1 in Lisbon in the other game with Bas Dost scoring twice. Bruno Cesar was also on target for Sporting and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe scored a late consolation for the Greeks who were eliminated.

Barcelona, 3-0 winners over Juve in their previous meeting in the group, have 11 points and are guaranteed to finish top. Juve are on eight, Sporting on seven and Olympiakos on one.

Barcelona were closest to a first-half goal when a long-range Ivan Rakitic free kick found its way through the penalty area, bounced off the post and fell to Paulinho, who was unable to take advantage.

Paulinho's other notable contribution was to be booked for diving in the penalty area while Luis Suarez was largely anonymous.

Dybala had Juve's best first-half effort when he dribbled around three defenders but he fired over from a difficult angle.

Messi's entrance changed little although the Argentine came close when he curled a long-range free kick over the bar.

Barcelona should have scored when Juan Cuadrado slipped and let in Lucas Digne but, instead of shooting, he tried to pass to Suarez and the Juve defence intercepted the ball.

The most entertaining moment came after the final whistle when Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon took off his gloves and his shorts and threw them into the crowd.