Bojan Krkić grabbed his first ever Champions League goal to guide FC Barcelona towards a 1-0 win in their Champions Legaue quarter-final against FC Schalke 04. As a relieved Frank Rijkaard said after the match: You can say that we got a good result today."
The visitors took an early lead when Bojan struck a vital away goal after just 12 minutes to become the first player born in the nineties to score a Champions League goal. Under Pressure Frank Rijkaard had to endure a tense forty five minutes as his side withstood some fierce second-half pressure to win in Gelsenkirchen. Schalke came close on a number of occasions after the interval as Barcelona repeated the same mistakes that cost them dearly against Betis at the weekend: dominant in the first half - dormant in the second.
As the Germans came close to an equaliser it was a good job that the roof was closed on the impressive
Veltins Arena as the Barcelona coach was spared the sight of the vultures circling above. Thankfully for Frank, his side clung on courtesy of some stubborn defending from Puyol and Milito, and the Barcelona coach will survive to shrug his shoulders another day.
This was Schalke's debut appearance in the last eight of the competition and the occasion seemed to get to them in the first half. Barcelona went in to this match under enormous pressure and if their confidence was fragile, then their German hosts extended them the courtesy of making life very easy for them in the first half. Both Schalke and their fans were unusually subdued.
Manuel Neuer, linked with a move to Barcelona, seemed affected by nerves more than any other and fumbled the ball on a number of occasions. After Iniesta's pass found Thierry Henry in space on the left, one such fumble proved costly: Neuer failed to keep hold of the Frenchman's strike and the rebound fell kindly for Henry to square the ball to Bojan who guided the ball home from close range.
Barcelona dominated the rest of the first half and although chances were few and far between, the visiting side went in at the break satisfied with their first half display. Xavi and Iniesta controlled possession and when Barcelona did lose the ball, a commanding Toure Ya Ya was always on hand to win it back.
The second half was a total reversal of the first and the home side were the quicker out of the blocks. As Schalke began to create chances the crowd came to life and as both sensed that an equaliser was imminent, each spurred the other on. Just as they did against Betis at the weekend, Barcelona seemed to shrink as their opponents grew in stature.
Unlike on Saturday, Barcelona clung on for the win, but Schalke will take inspiration from a number of late goalscoring opportunities that exploited the Catalan's vulnerability in the air.
Rijkaard admitted afterwards that "Things got more difficult when Schalke's approach became more physical"
"Schalke performed better when we got tired. These are the small details where we can still improve. We worked hard and it would have been nice to maintain our performance level in the second half. Although we couldn't, we still won and that's why I'm pleased," added the Barcelona coach.
Toure seemed to tire noticeably in the second half and his withdrawal visibly weakened Barcelona's midfield presence. The wisdom in postponing his operation is being put to the test.
This was a good result and, as Chelsea have previously found out, Gelsenkirchen is not an easy place to get an away win. But the second half display will have done little do dispel the lingering doubts that cling to this Barcelona side. There is an air of vulnerability that haunts every performance.
Barcelona may have done enough - just - to give them the upper hand in this two legged tie that should see them go through. But they are a long way short of convincing and unfortunately for Rijkaard, the Camp Nou has no roof to hide him from the vultures circling above.