LIONEL MESSI’S second-half return from injury was not enough to inspire Barcelona to Champions League victory at Borussia Dortmund as Marc-Andre ter Stegen played a vital role in securing a 0-0 draw on Tuesday.
Talismanic forward Messi made his first appearance of the season after recovering from a calf injury, though he was a peripheral figure for Barca, who only secured a point thanks to Ter Stegen saving Marco Reus’ penalty.
Dortmund edged a first half that was cagier than many might have expected from a contest between two typically free-flowing sides, though proceedings were more stretched after the break.
Reus spurned a glorious chance to give the hosts the lead in the 57th minute when seeing his spot-kick kept out by Ter Stegen and then Julian Brandt hit the crossbar from long distance as Barca held on to a point.
Dortmund began the brighter of the two sides, but Barca crafted the first opening as Gerard Pique’s glancing header in the 13th minute flashed right across the face of goal.
They had to rely on Ter Stegen to remain level 12 minutes later, however, the German thwarting Reus from close range after he latched on to Thorgan Hazard’s incisive disguised pass.
Dortmund went close again six minutes before half-time, but Jadon Sancho fired just over from 20 yards after being teed up by Paco Alcacer at the end of well-worked counter.
Ter Stegen was Barca’s saviour once more just before the hour mark, producing a brilliant save down to his left to save Reus’ penalty after Nelson Semedo had trodden on Sancho’s foot.
Messi was introduced soon after for the quiet 16-year-old Ansu Fati, who became Barca’s youngest player in the Champions League.
Dortmund still looked livelier, as Alcacer and Reus shot over from close range, before Brandt’s 30-yard drive hit the bar, but Barca escaped unscathed.