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image courtesy ; The Telegraph

Champions League

Messi brace guided Barcelona into top 16 as group C winner

Messi goes sidelined for a single match and talks about Barcelona problems starts, and with Messi return it got buried immediately. Once again Messi proved to be difference between the two sides as Barcelona defeated Celtic 2-0 at Celtic Park in Glasgow. A 24th minute clinical finish with the assist of Neymar’s cross from near post, and 55th minute penalty earned by Suarez, helped Messi to take his goal tally to 9 from four appearances in Uefa Champions League campaign this season. It was also a record breaking night for Neymar as he got his seventh assist of the campaign equaling the feat of Xavi, Ozil and Ibrahimovic.

Victory over Celtic ensured Barcelona will finish at top of group C, as Manchester City held for a 1-1 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach. Now Barcelona has 12 points from 5 games, and City only enjoys the 2nd spot with 8 points, even a win in their final game against Celtic wouldn’t be enough for them to catch Blaugranas.

Keeping weekend defeat against Malaga aside, Luis Enrique men got a positive start as they find Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, both back in the side. Messi and Suarez, both looked lively after missing the last fixture against Malaga. In total, Messi had five golden opportunities to score, and Suarez was denied on couple of occasion as well from Messi’s assist.

Messi’s first attempt on goal was little wide, as he tries to find the bottom right corner from Jordi Alba through ball. He also came close to heading in from Ivan Rakitic cross, and Celtic side couldn’t stop combining MSN together. In 24th minute, Messi scored his 8th goal of the campaign from Neymar’s clever chip from left-side. Neymar picked Messi who made a run inside the box, and Messi duly converted the half-volley with inch perfect slicing from near post. It was Barcelona’s 400th goal under manager Luis Enrique, and Neymar’s 7th assist of the campaign.

Moussa Dembele do tested Andre Ter Stegen on the other side of the pitch, but Barcelona goalkeeper was alert. Barcelona could have easily doubled their lead if Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon wouldn’t have made a brilliant save to deny Suarez’s header from Messi cross. Although, Suarez couldn’t believe Gordon made the save, but first-half ended as score stands 1-0 in favour of Barcelona.

In 2nd half Celtic had a clear chance to equalize from James Forest cross, but Dembele put his header straight into the hands of Ter Stegen. If Barcelona gives you chances, you need to capitalize on that, because you are not going to get many. Sergio Roberto charged a counter on right in 55th minute, and served a through ball to Suarez, but he was brought down by Izaguirre and Messi took the resultant penalty. Messi scored his 9th goal of the campaign from the spot, what a remarkable feat to score nine goals from four appearances.

Neymar created another opportunity for Argentine talisman, but his right footed shot goes narrowly wide. It would have been third hat-trick for Messi from four appearances, if he would have scored. Neymar didn’t find himself on the scoresheet and earned himself a booking as well, which will left him out of Monchengladbach clash on match day sixth.

Messi had another chance at death, when he created an opportunity to get inside the box, but he prefers to pass it to Suarez whose effort hit outside of the post and ball didn’t go in. Messi was once again the difference between the both side, serving himself a brace in 2-0 victory. Whereas Barcelona ended up as group C winner, Celtic ends up being eliminated from European competition.


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