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Celtic 0 - Barcelona 2: Classy Barca in a league of their own

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 24/11/2016

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the UEFA Champions League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 23, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the UEFA Champions League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 23, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Barcelona's Argentinian striker Lionel Messi (C) shoots to score the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League group C football match between Celtic and Barcelona at Celtic Park in Glasgow on November 23, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 23: A young Celtic fan has a Brendan Rodgers manager of Celtic mask on prior to during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Celtic FC and FC Barcelona at Celtic Park Stadium on November 23, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 23: A fan holds up a match day scarf during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Celtic FC and FC Barcelona at Celtic Park Stadium on November 23, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Lionel Messi of Barcelona scores his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Celtic FC and FC Barcelona at Celtic Park Stadium on November 23, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the UEFA Champions League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 23, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (centre), Luis Suarez (right) and Neymar (left) during warm-up before the UEFA Champions League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 23, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Barcelona's Lionel Messi has a shot during the UEFA Champions League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 23, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 23: A young Celtic fan claps his team prior to kick off during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Celtic FC and FC Barcelona at Celtic Park Stadium on November 23, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Lionel Messi of Barcelona (L) arrives at the stadiium prior to kick off during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Celtic FC and FC Barcelona at Celtic Park Stadium on November 23, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Barcelona's Luis Suarez arrives before the UEFA Champions League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PA
Bagpipe players outside the ground lead the Barcelona coach in before the UEFA Champions League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 23, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 22: Gerard Pique of Barcelona is seen during a training session prior to the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and FC Barcelona at Celtic Park Stadium on November 22, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Bagpipe players and fans before the UEFA Champions League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 23, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Barcelona's Argentinian striker Lionel Messi (L) and Barcelona's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez attend a training session at Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow on November 22, 2016 ahead of their UEFA Champions League group C football match against Celtic in Glasgow on November 23. / AFP PHOTO / Andy BuchananANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
Barcelona's Argentinian striker Lionel Messi (L) and Barcelona's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez attend a training session at Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow on November 22, 2016 ahead of their UEFA Champions League group C football match against Celtic in Glasgow on November 23. / AFP PHOTO / Andy BuchananANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
Barcelona players attend a training session at Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow on November 22, 2016 ahead of their UEFA Champions League group C football match against Celtic in Glasgow on November 23. / AFP PHOTO / Andy BuchananANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

Celtic were knocked out of Europe as a Lionel Messi double gave Barcelona a 2-0 Champions League win at Parkhead. The Argentinian, who scored a hat-trick in the 7-0 home win over the Hoops in the opening Group C fixture, struck from close range in the 23rd minute and doubled his tally from the spot 10 minutes after the break.

Brendan Rodgers' side put up a better show than they did in the Nou Camp but remain bottom of the group with two points and travel to Manchester City next month for the final fixture unable to finish third for a Europa League spot.

Despite all the home side's efforts - and they really put in a shift - it was a mostly comfortable win for Luis Enrique's men, who qualify for the knockout stages as group winners.

Celtic fans turned up in the hope of a repeat of the 2-1 win over Barca four years ago, rather than in any expectation.

Barcelona, though, travelled to Glasgow carrying their worst start to a La Liga campaign in a decade but they were boosted by the return of Messi after he recovered from illness.

Fellow forward Luis Suarez was back from suspension while Gerard Pique shrugged off a knock to take his place in the defence.

Celtic defenders Jozo Simunovic and Emilio Izaguirre and midfielder Tom Rogic were back in the side but striker Leigh Griffiths failed a fitness test with a tight hamstring.

Barcelona showed early flashes of their class and in the 10th minute Messi failed to control a wonderful through ball from Sergio Busquets when he would have had only goalkeeper Craig Gordon to beat.

Messi then missed the target with a drive from 16 yards after being set up by Jordi Alba, before Ivan Rakitic headed a cross from the same player past the post.

Not that it was one-way traffic, but Celtic could only get as far as the edge of the visitors' box.

Brazilian forward Neymar was arguably the outstanding Barcelona player on show, conducting play from wide on the left, and his little dink found Messi who steered it past Gordon at his near post.

It was a clinical finish, but to their credit Celtic came fighting back and there remained the suggestion that they could fashion an opportunity.

That chance came in the 36th minute when striker Moussa Dembele tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a decent drive from 16 yards, the goalkeeper gathering at the second attempt.

However, the visitors retained their potency going forward and it would have been 2-0 had Gordon not made a remarkable save from Suarez's point-blank header after Messi had reached the byline with a trademark burst of speed.

Winger James Forrest replaced Scott Sinclair at the start of the second half and seven minutes later he planted a cross right onto the head of Dembele but the France Under-21 striker's header, like Callum McGregor's drive moments earlier, lacked power.

The Hoops paid for that glaring miss almost immediately when Izaguirre's challenge on Suarez inside the box at the other end saw Italian referee Daniele Orsato point to the spot, with Messi confidently beating Gordon with his penalty.

The home fans did their best to rally their heroes but it was with defiance rather than conviction, and a hush went around the stadium when Messi, looking for his hat-trick, made a yard of space before screwing the ball wide of the far post.

The Parkhead side kept pushing forward but the Catalans were largely in control - Suarez missed a sitter in front of goal after being set up by Messi - and saw the game out to take their place, inevitably, in the knockout stages again.

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre, McGregor (Roberts, 72 mins), Armstrong, Brown, Sinclair (Forrest, 46 mins), Rogic (Bitton, 64 mins), Dembele. Unused subs: De Vries, Toure, Gamboa, Henderson.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Mascherano, Pique (Marlon, 72 mins), Jordi Alba (Digne, 66 mins), Rakitic, Busquets, Andre Gomes, Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar (Turan, 77 mins). Unused subs: Cillessen, Denis Suarez, Rafinha, Alcacer.

Referee: Daniele Orsato (Italy)

Man of the match: Lionel Messi

Match rating: 6/10

 

Belfast Telegraph

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