Barcelona were held to a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Inter on Wednesday night, leaving their hopes of Champions League qualification for the knockout stages hanging by a thread.
After consecutive European defeats, Xavi Hernandez billed the contest as a "final" for Barcelona. Fittingly, his side played the match with a feverish and frantic zeal which continued from the first minute to the last.
Pressing high and hard, Barcelona launched wave after wave of attack, approaching the first half as though they were trailing in stoppage time.
Inter were quick to sink into a compact 5-3-2 off the ball but threatened when they sporadically burst out of their shell.
Raphinha epitomised the club's burning endeavour when he scampered after his own knockdown. Collecting the ball by the corner flag, the Brazilian coolly rolled a pass along the byline. Sergi Roberto helped it into the six-yard box for Ousmane Dembele to rifle over the line, igniting a sold-out Camp Nou.
The 91,000 in attendance fell silent as Nicolo Barella wheeled away within five minutes of the restart. Gerard Pique flung both arms out, signalling there was no danger as he left Alessandro Bastoni's pass for his keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. However, the veteran hadn't spotted Barella - who Pique was playing onside. Bringing the ball down on his thigh, the 25-year-old swiped Inter level on the swivel.
Another experienced head in Barcelona's side undermined the fervour of their colleagues. Sergio Busquets scarcely gave the ball away alongside Xavi but had a simple pass cut out while his former teammate watched on in horror. With Barcelona's rearguard out of shape, Lautaro Martinez quickly found the ball at his feet, jinking away from Eric Garcia to fire Inter ahead - via both posts - in the 64th minute.
Lewandowski had been marshalled well for much of the match but burst into life in the final ten minutes. Breaking free at the second phase of a corner, Lewandowski swatted a shot which was heavily deflected past Andre Onana, to make it 2-2.
However, Inter rapidly extinguished the hope which was returning to the Catalan crowd. Martinez took down Onana's long punt up the pitch, spotting Robin Gosens breaking his neck to get into an empty penalty box with Barcelona bodies scattered up the pitch and firing Inter back ahead.
Lewandowski provided a final loop in this rollercoaster encounter, thumping a header beyond Onana's dive in the third minute of stoppage time to set up a grandstand finish to a match which had been played at a similar tempo from the first whistle.
Barcelona vs Inter player ratings - Champions League
1. Barcelona (4-3-3)
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen - 8/10 - Seemed to fill so much of the goal as he continued his excellent form.
RB: Sergi Roberto - 7/10 - Wandered between Inter's lines, overloading central areas as he left the entire right flank for Raphinha.
CB: Eric Garcia - 6/10 - Keen to feed the ball between the visiting white shirts.
CB: Gerard Pique - 2/10 - The veteran was guilty of a schoolboy error.
LB: Marcos Alonso - 6/10 - Deployed in an uncharacteristically reserved role, tucking infield to make a back-three when Barcelona built up from the back.
CM: Pedri - 6/10 - Constantly drifting off the back of his opponent's shoulders, sneaking around the final third.
CM: Sergio Busquets - 4/10 - Even the ice-cool pivot got swept along in the frenzy, rushing his one-touch passes.
CM: Gavi - 6/10 - Hustled and bustled around in midfield with familiar energy which was replicated by most of his teammates for once.
RW: Raphinha - 8/10 - A star in Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United, Raphinha is used to thriving in chaos, flourishing amid the fury on Wednesday night. Bizarrely subbed off after an hour.
ST: Robert Lewandowski - 7/10 - Spent much of the game furiously battling at least two of Inter's three centre-backs before scrawling his name all over the script at the death.
LW: Ousmane Dembele - 6/10 - Like his opposite winger, Dembele held a very wide starting position - trying to stretch Inter's compact back-five - but timed his dart off the flank to perfection.
SUB: Frenkie de Jong (64' for Busquets) - 5/10
SUB: Ansu Fati (64' for Raphinha) - 5/10
SUB: Alejandro Balde (72' for Alonso) - N/A
SUB: Franck Kessie (72' for Roberto) - N/A
SUB: Ferran Torres (82' for Gavi) - N/A
Manager: Xavi Hernandez - 5/10 - Inspired his team to play with an almost demented desire but couldn't legislate for a couple of errors from his former teammates.
2. Inter (3-5-2)
GK: Andre Onana - 4/10 - The former Barcelona academy player treated the ball like a hot potato, spilling numerous efforts from range.
CB: Milan Skriniar - 7/10 - Took a thoroughly physical approach to the challenge of shackling Lewandowski.
CB: Stefan de Vrij - 6/10 - Shadowed almost every step Lewandowski took.
CB: Alessandro Bastoni - 6/10 - Very pleased to see Raphinha trudge off the pitch, Bastoni floated the ball forward which led to Barella's equaliser.
RWB: Denzel Dumfries - 7/10 - A dynamic outlet that drove Inter up the pitch when the Nerazzurri broke forward.
CM: Nicolo Barella - 8/10 - Engaged in a fascinating battle of scrap and sinew with Barcelona's Gavi. Took his goal superbly with his weaker left foot.
CM: Hakan Calhanoglu - 7/10 - The springboard for Inter's attacking transitions while bolstering his reputation as a potent set-piece architect.
CM: Henrikh Mkhitaryan - 5/10 - Kept the score level with his goal-line clearance but struggled to keep track of Roberto all night and notably for Dembele's opener.
LWB: Federico Dimarco - 4/10 - Pinned back for large swathes of the match with Raphinha to deal with.
ST: Edin Dzeko - 6/10 - A perennial option for a pass forward from the visitors but he was unfortunate to see his first-half effort bounce off the woodwork and onto - rather than over - the goal line.
ST: Lautaro Martinez - 7/10 - Buzzed around the fringes of the contest before sparking into life when the ball fell his way in the box.
SUB: Matteo Darmian (66' for Dimarco) - 5/10
SUB: Robin Gosens (76' for Calhanoglu) - N/A
SUB: Raoul Bellanova (76' for Dzeko) - N/A
SUB: Kristjan Asllani (85' for Barella) - N/A
SUB: Francesco Acerbi (85' for Bastoni) - N/A
Manager: Simone Inzaghi - 7/10 - Just as Xavi had predicted, Inzaghi set his side up to sit back and strike on the counter but went for the throat when they sensed Barcelona wobble.