|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Messi double earns Barcelona victory
February 21, 2008 11:50 IST
Argentine striker Lionel Messi [Images] hit a double as Barcelona beat Celtic 3-2 in the first leg of their Champions League first knockout round tie at Parkhead on Wednesday.
The Spanish side came back twice from behind to eventually sink Celtic with Messi's winner 11 minutes from the end of a thrilling match that marked their 100th win in the European Cup.
Celtic had led after 16 minutes through Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink before Messi levelled two minutes later. Midfielder Barry Robson put the home side in front again before the break but Thierry Henry [Images] pulled one back early in the second half.
Celtic keeper Artur Boruc pulled off a fine, parrying save after 12 minutes, diving to his left to turn away a 20-metre rasping shot from Andres Iniesta.
Three minutes later, the home side went ahead with a fabulous diving header by striker Dutch striker Vennegoor of Hesselink. He hurtled in to meet a sweeping cross from the left by Lee Naylor and smash a five-metre effort high into the middle of the net.
Barcelona levelled on 18 minutes when Messi exchanged passes with Portugese midfielder Deco on the edge of the box and stabbed a shot over advancing Pole Boruc from six metres on the right.
Celtic surged 2-1 in front when Robson, on his Champions League debut, sent a 12-metre looping header over wrong-footed keeper Victor Valdes from Aiden McGeady's clipped cross on the left in the 38th minute.
Barcelona hit back again, this time capitalising on a stray pass by defender Gary Caldwell which spun straight to Brazilian Ronaldinho [Images].
He angled a low pass into the path of Henry, who moved just inside the penalty area on the left before curling a rising shot around Boruc and just inside the right post on 52 minutes.
Messi pounced to put Barcelona ahead for the first time when Celtic failed to clear in the box, dragging the ball back from floundering defender Caldwell 10 metres out before sweeping a low shot into the bottom far corner in the 79th minute.
Boruc denied Henry a second goal with a superb blocking save a few metres from goal as he spread himself wide enough to get his left boot on the ball following Carles Puyol's low cross from the right with four minutes left.
UEFA Champions League 2007-08: The Complete Coverage