MUNICH (Reuters) -Barcelona crashed out of the Champions League following a 3-0 defeat at Bayern Munich on Wednesday, failing to make it past the group stage of the competition for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
First-half goals from Thomas Mueller and Leroy Sane put the Germans, who won all six matches to top Group E, firmly in the driving seat before Jamal Musiala tapped in the third just past the hour.
Barcelona had advanced to at least the round of 16 every time they competed in the Champions League since 2001 but will continue in the second tier Europa League after ending up third in the group. Benfica qualified as group runners-up with a win over bottom club Dynamo Kyiv.
Barca, who made not a single chance in the second half and scored just twice in six group games, have lost their last two matches in all competitions following new coach Xavi’s first defeat in charge of the side by Real Betis on Saturday.
“Bayern were better, superior,” Xavi said. “This is the harsh reality we have to face. I have told players that this is a turning-point. Today a new era begins and we have to take Barca where it deserves which is not the Europa League.
“I am frustrated because this is our reality. We start from scratch and we have to get Barca back to fighting for the Champions League. I now feel responsible. Now we have to go out and win the Europa League.”
Despite having secured top spot in the group, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann fielded his strongest possible team, refusing to rest top players after they beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
The German champions had been struggling defensively, keeping just one clean sheet in their last eight matches prior to Wednesday.
Jordi Alba tested Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer with a long-range effort in the seventh minute and Ousmane Dembele fired over the bar as the Spaniards initially pressed high. But that was all that was to come from the Barca attack for the rest of the game as the Germans gradually took control.
A scintillating Mueller run down the left caught Barca napping but his cutback came just too late for Robert Lewandowski who failed to tap in from a metre.
The roles were reversed with Lewandowski chipping the ball into the box and Mueller heading in his 50th Champions League goal in the 34th minute, becoming only the eighth player in Champions League history to reach that mark.
Bayern scored again before the break with a Sane missile from 25 metres out. Barcelona, who needed a win to advance, failed to carve out a chance in the second half before Musiala’s 62nd minute tap-in sealed their exit.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)