Lionel Messi scored on his 700th Barcelona appearance as they reached the knockout stages of the Champions League with a win over Borussia Dortmund.
The Argentine, who has now scored 114 goals in the competition, was the catalyst for Barcelona’s best work throughout.
His deft pass released Luis Suarez for the opener, with Uruguay forward finding the bottom left corner of the Dortmund goal, moments after being caught offside when converting another Messi pass.
Messi doubled the hosts’ lead four minutes later, registering his 613th goal for the club, with a left-foot effort from eight yards.
Antoine Griezmann completed a comfortable evening for Ernesto Valverde’s side, with his rasping drive into the bottom right corner coming from another incisive Messi pass.
England winger Jadon Sancho pulled a goal back for Dortmund, who are now third in Group F – behind Inter Milan on head-to-head record – and face a battle to join Barca in the knockout stages.
To go through, Dortmund must pick up more points from their final group fixture on 10 December, against Slavia Prague, than Inter Milan get at home to Barcelona on the same night.
Dortmund manager Lucien Favre, who is already under pressure with his side sixth in the Bundesliga, sprung a surprise before kick-off with his decision to leave Sancho out of his starting XI.
However, it was the introduction of the 19-year-old that sparked the visitors into life after the interval.
The winger not only supplied some much-needed pace to the Dortmund forward line but an inventiveness that had also been absent during the first half.
Sancho created an excellent opportunity for Julian Brandt to score as Dortmund trailed 2-0 and also saw a late effort to further reduce Dortmund’s deficit brilliantly tipped on to the crossbar by home goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
While the Englishman’s influence was restricted by his limited time on the pitch, the same could not be said of Messi, who delivered another masterclass for the hosts.
The Barca maestro has now had a direct hand in 48 goals in his 34 Champions League group-stage matches at the Nou Camp and could well have had the further reward of another goal, with a trademark free-kick which hit the Dortmund crossbar.
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Source – BBC