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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Messi double lifts Barcelona, Man City advance

PHOTOS: Messi double lifts Barcelona, Man City advance

Last updated on: November 24, 2016 10:03 IST

Images from the Champions League matches on Wednesday:

Messi back at the double after illness to sicken Celtic

IMAGE: Lionel Messi, centre, celebrates with team mates after scoring the first goal for Barcelona. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The dazzling Lionel Messi returned from illness to score yet another double to help Barcelona ease into the knockout stages of the Champions League for a 13th successive year with their 2-0 win at Celtic on Wednesday.

Messi, who missed the goalless draw with Malaga on Saturday with a sickness bug, was back to his tormenting best just as he had been when scoring a hat-trick in Barca's 7-0 win in the their Group C fixture at the Nou Camp two months earlier.

The Argentinian followed up an impressive first-half strike from close range with a penalty after the break, and was a constant threat throughout the match alongside Brazilian team mate Neymar.

The brace took Messi's Champions League total to 92 goals, including nine in this season's group stages alone, and though he narrowly missed a hat-trick, his genius ensured Celtic exited all European competition while Barca will progress as group winners.

"It was a game that we expected. In one of the toughest groups, we have come top. I have to congratulate the team," said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.

IMAGE: Lionel Messi, left, scores the first goal for Barcelona. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

Celtic coach Brendan Rodgers had impressed upon his players not to give their illustrious opponents too much respect as they had done in Barcelona and they were certainly not humiliated in the same manner as they were in September.

They had some decent goalscoring opportunities which fell to striker Moussa Dembele, but he failed to add to his three goals in this season's group stage.

For all Celtic's pressing and possession, however, Barca had too much class with Messi their executioner again, latching on to Neymar's dinked through ball to fire first-time past Craig Gordon in the 24th minute.

He doubled his tally from the penalty spot in the 56th after Luis Suarez was fouled by Emilio Izaguirre.

Messi had further opportunities to add to his tally and only a remarkable save by Gordon from a Suarez header in the first half prevented the winning margin from being wider.

"The players gave everything," said Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers.

"We restricted them to one or two chances and at 1-0 we had a real chance to equalise. However, they went up to the other end and scored a second."

Man City reach knockout stage

IMAGE: David Silva, right, scores the first goal for Manchester City against Borussia Monchengladbach. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

Manchester City booked a spot in the Champions League last 16 after securing a 1-1 draw at Borussia Moenchengladbach in their Group C match on Wednesday as both teams had a player sent off.

The hosts, who secured third place in the group and will go into the Europa League, took a surprise lead through Brazilian Raffael before David Silva equalised on the stroke of halftime.

Gladbach were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when captain Lars Stindl was sent off following a second booking but City's Fernandinho also saw red 12 minutes later.

"We controlled the second half, especially after Fernandinho’s red card when we just held the ball," City's Ilkay Guendogan said.

"It was necessary to do that and we are through the group stage which is the most important thing."

The result lifted second-placed City to eight points, four behind leaders Barcelona, who won 2-0 at Celtic. Gladbach are third on five, three ahead of the Scottish champions.

"Obviously we are satisfied with the result," said Gladbach coach Andre Schubert. "It was a difficult game, a complicated one against a great team.

"We are super happy to have grabbed this point, happy that in this group we managed to finish third with a game left. At the end we did not want to risk anything."

IMAGE: Raffael scores Borussia Monchengladbach's first goal. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

Fielding a formidable attack with Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas, City coach Pep Guardiola, back in Germany for the first time since leaving Bayern Munich in the close season, made his intentions clear from the start.

His players pressed high in the Gladbach half and controlled possession but the Germans, without a win in their last six league matches, remained disciplined.

City failed to carve out a clear scoring chance and the hosts struck on the break with Stindl charging through and laying the ball off for Raffael to fire in.

Guendogan almost equalised soon afterwards but his low shot saved by Yann Sommer.

The keeper also parried Aguero's effort but could do nothing when unmarked David Silva slipped into the box to tap in Kevin de Bruyne's cutback in first-half stoppage time.

Gladbach's night took a further turn for the worse when Stindl was dismissed following a bodycheck off the ball on Nicolas Otamendi.

Fernandinho's sending-off levelled the numbers up again and neither team were prepared to risk much for a win in the closing stages as the result suited both.

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