Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League before kicking a ball on Wednesday as Inter Milan’s 4-0 win over Plzen left them with only a Europa League place.
Ex-Premier League players Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko scored first-half goals to set Inter on their way at the San Siro, before former Man City man Dzeko struck again in the second half. Romelu Lukaku rounded off the victory late on, meaning Barcelona can only finish third in Group C.
It’s the second straight season Barcelona, who host Bayern at the Nou Camp also on Wednesday, have exited the Champions League at the group stage, having gone 17 straight seasons making the knockout stages.
A lively opening yielded early chances for Inter but they were thwarted by Plzen goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek who pulled off a superb double save in the 25th minute before Mkhitaryan put the hosts ahead 10 minutes later.
The former Roma midfielder turned in Alessandro Bastoni’s looping cross and veteran Dzeko then put Inter in total command when he tapped home after Federico Dimarco had latched on to Nicolo Barella’s excellent crossfield pass.
Plzen, winless in this year’s competition, offered little offensive threat and were sliced open again in the 66th minute as Dzeko added to his tally when he swept in Lautaro Martinez’s pass inside the area.
Lukaku marked his long-awaited return from injury with a goal as he completed the rout after slotting past Stanek following a perfectly weighted through ball from Joaquin Correa
Porto boost hopes with big win in Brugge
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Porto gave their hopes of progress in the Champions League a major boost with a convincing 4-0 victory away at Group B leaders Club Brugge and could still have their advance to the knockout stage confirmed on Wednesday.
Mehdi Taremi put Porto into a first-half lead before goalkeeper Diogo Costa saved two penalties to deny the Belgian hosts a way back into the game early in the second half.
Evanilson, Stephen Eustaquio and Taremi then added three more goals in quick succession to give Porto revenge after they lost 4-0 at home to Club Brugge in mid-September.
The result left Brugge, already guaranteed a top-two finish, on 10 points as Porto moved up to nine and they will have qualification for next February’s knockout stage assured if third-placed Atletico Madrid, on four points, do not beat Bayer Leverkusen at home later on Wednesday