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Messi shines as Barcelona progress at Spartak

Tuesday 20 November 2012 20.18 CET
Lionel Messi celebrates one of his two goals

FC Barcelona produced a scintillating first-half display to reach the UEFA Champions League knockout stage and end the qualification hopes of FC Spartak Moskva in the process.

The Blaugrana were inspired by Lionel Messi, who had a role in all three goals. The Argentinian international's mesmerising run helped set up Daniel Alves's fine 16th-minute opener, before he doubled his side's lead with a scuffed effort. The 25-year-old completed the scoring six minutes before the break with his fifth goal in as many Group G outings.

The visitors quickly settled into their rhythm in Moscow, leaving Unai Emery's team to chase shadows for most of the first period. They were having real difficulty in stopping Messi and Xavi Hernández and it was no surprise that the No10 had more than a helping hand in the opening goal.

Messi went on a mazy run, which the Spartak defence partially halted. The ball dropped kindly for Alves, who unleashed a powerful right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area which whistled past goalkeeper Andriy Dykan.

Spartak were being completely outplayed, though their cause might have been aided somewhat had Dmitri Kombarov, Marek Suchý and Emmanuel Emenike not squandered presentable chances. All three were guilty of blazing over from close range as the Barcelona defence looked less than secure.

The Spanish Liga pacesetters nevertheless increased their advantage on 27 minutes. Messi's stunning pass put Andrés Iniesta in on goal, and while Dykan did well to parry his shot, the ball dropped to the forward, whose strike on the follow-up found its way into the back of the net. If it was not already over, the game was made safe before the interval. Sergio Busquets this time turned provider as his excellent pass found Messi, who easily rounded Dykan to score.

With the points wrapped up, it was hardly surprising that the intensity of Tito Vilanova's side slowed in the second half. However, the Catalan outfit were still creating opportunities with Iniesta, having been released by Cesc Fàbregas, eliciting a smart stop from Dykan. Spartak tried hard yet could not so much as muster a consolation as Barcelona cantered into the last 16.

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