Champions League: Lionel Messi strike seals qualification for Barcelona; Tottenham stay alive
Lionel Messi scored one and assisted another as Barcelona overcame a resilient PSV Eindhoven 2-1 to secure the top spot in Champions League Group B on Thursday.
Messi assisted defender Gerard Pique for the second goal as Barcelona with 13 points moved clear of the second-placed Tottenham and Inter, both of the teams are struck at seven points. The Argentine’s goal was his 106th Champions League goal for Barcelona, helping him overtake Cristiano Ronaldo’s 105 for the most number of goals scored for a single club.
PSV Skipper Luuk de Jong scored a consolation goal for the home team, who put up a tough fight against the La Liga champions hitting the woodwork thrice in the first half but failed to find the net.
The home side started well and could have scored early when Gaston Pereiro latched onto a poor pass from Ivan Rakitic but his low drive from the far post went out of target, while Pereiro also found the crossbar a minute later.
Barcelona, on the other, had two Arturo Vidal headers cleared off the line in the first half. Pablo Rosario was at it for the first of Vidal’s header while Angelino blocked a goalbound header from the resulting header.
They eventually took the lead in the 61st minute purely from a Messi magic moment. The skipper received the ball on the edge of the box and with four defenders around him, the Argentine burst forward before thundering a finish to put his side ahead. It was 2-0 nine minutes later when Pique nodded home a Messi free-kick.
With 10 minutes remaining, De Jong headed the ball into the net handing a brink of hope to the home fans but Barcelona held fort to eventually seal the victory.
They will, however, consider themselves lucky as De Jog found a second header hitting the bar, while Denzel Dumfries struck the post from the rebound.
In the other match of Group B, Christian Eriksen scored a late goal as Tottenham Hotspur kept their hopes alive of making a progress into the knockouts with a vital 1-0 win over Inter Milan.
Eriksen had not started the game and was a surprise substitution as Tottenham rallied hard to keep themselves alive even as Inter played for a draw, knowing a draw was enough totake them into the knockouts at the expense of Tottenham.