Dest scores 1st goal as Barça advances in Champions League

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — American defender Sergiño Dest scored his first goal with Barcelona as the Catalan club comfortably defeated Dynamo Kyiv 4-0 and advanced to the knockout stage of the Champions League on Tuesday despite the absence of Lionel Messi.

Martin Braithwaite scored twice and Antoine Griezmann once as Barcelona secured a spot in the last 16 of the European competition for the 17th straight season.

Barcelona reached 12 points from four victories in Group G. It has a three-point lead over Juventus, which beat Hungarian club Ferencváros 2-1 at home. Dynamo and Ferencváros stayed at one point each and have no chance of advancing with two rounds of matches remaining.

Dest scored for the first time since signing with Barcelona in October with a low cross shot into the far corner in the 52nd minute. Braithwaite added to the lead from close range in the 57th and scored again from a penalty kick in the 70th. Griezmann entered the match in the second half and closed the scoring in stoppage time.

Dest, the 20-year-old U.S. national team player who joined from Ajax, came close to scoring his second goal with a long range shot that just missed over the crossbar in the final minutes.

Another American player — 19-year-old forward Konrad de la Fuente — made his Barcelona debut when he came on as a substitute in the 83rd to become the record seventh American to play in the European competition this season.

It was the first time two Americans played together for a club in the Champions League since Tim Howard and Jonathan Spector were with Manchester United in a match against Fenerbahce in 2004. That was the only other time that happened.

Messi was rested after having played in every match with Barcelona this season. He also spent time with Argentina’s national team. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong also didn’t make the trip to Ukraine to get some rest time.

Barcelona has won its Champions League group every time since 2007-08. Dynamo was making its first group appearance since the 2016-17 season.

The Ukrainian side has been depleted by the coronavirus recently. It had lost 2-1 to Barcelona at the Camp Nou Stadium in the previous round.

Barcelona was without Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto because of injuries.

Coach Ronald Koeman fielded a starting lineup without many regular starters and used reserve-team player Óscar Mingueza in central defense alongside with Clément Lenglet.

Griezmann started on the bench again despite the extra spot available in attack because of Messi’s absence.

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