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Celtic 0-2 Barcelona: Lionel Messi scores twice as Barca send Hoops out of Europe

By Ronnie Esplin

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 section 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 side 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 Barcelona four years ago, rather than in any expectation.

Barcelona, though, travelled to Glasgow carrying their worst start to a LaLiga 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 on 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 on to the head of Demebele but the France Under-21 striker's header, like Callum McGregor's drive moments earlier, lacked power.

Celtic 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 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.


"So just the 9 goals and 2 assists in 4 champions league games for Lionel Messi..." Former Chelsea midfielder Jody Morris (@morriskid) reflects on Lionel Messi's impressive record in Europe this season.


Lionel Messi - the Argentine genius scored a hat-trick when the sides met in Spain back in September and did the damage again to the Hoops with a deadly double.


Neymar's sublime pass for Messi's opener ensured he matched the record for the most assists in a single Champions League season previously recorded by Xavi, Mesut Ozil and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the Brazilian having laid on seven goals for his team-mates so far this term.


Celtic Park on a big European night is always a special place but the atmosphere that greeted the home side as they walked out with Luis Enrique's Spanish giants was breathtaking.



Craig Gordon 7 (out of 10)

Mikael Lustig 6

Jozo Simunovic 7

Erik Sviatchenko 6

Emilio Izaguirre 5

Scott Brown 8

Stuart Armstrong 7

Callum McGregor 6

Tom Rogic 6

Scott Sinclair 6

Moussa Dembele 6


James Forrest (for Sinclair, 46 mins) 6

Nir Bitton (for Tom Rogic, 64 mins) 5

Patrick Roberts (for McGregor, 77 mins) 5


Marc-Andre ter Stegen 6

Sergi Roberto 6

Javier Mascherano 8

Gerard Pique 8

Jordie Alba 7

Ivan Rakitic 7

Sergio Busquets 7

Andre Gomes 6

Lionel Messi 8

Luis Suarez 7

Neymar 7


Lucas Digne (for Alba, 64 mins) 6

Marlon (for Pique, 71 mins) 5

Arda Turan (for Neymar, 78 mins) 6


Celtic v Aberdeen, Betfred Cup final (Sunday, November 27)

Real Sociedad v Barcelona, La Liga (Sunday, November 27)

Match preview

Rodgers insists it can be done despite Camp Nou woe

Brendan Rodgers insisted Celtic were improved, not harmed, by their 7-0 thrashing by Barcelona as he prepared for a rematch at Parkhead on Wednesday night.

The Hoops started their Champions League Group C campaign in September by being put to the sword by Barca's superstars as Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and Luis Suarez a double with Neymar and Andres Iniesta also on target after Parkhead striker Moussa Dembele had a penalty saved when Celtic were 1-0 down.

The Scottish champions have collected two points from four fixtures and need a win in their final two matches to have a chance of European football after Christmas.

On the domestic front, however, Celtic remain clear at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership and are looking forward to the Betfred Cup final against Aberdeen on Sunday.

The Hoops boss believes his squad were galvanised through their Catalan experience.

The Carnlough native said: "Out there, we made a very bad start to the game, going 1-0 behind, we had the opportunity to equalise, we had threats on counter attacks.

"Obviously we didn't get (score) the penalty and very quickly they get the second goal.

"And once Barcelona - like they have shown many times against better teams than ourselves in all honesty - get that rhythm and that flow, it is very hard to contain it.

"So lots of learning came from that, lots of development both in terms of our team mentality and our game, came from that performance.

"At the time of course, I said it was very disappointing but it hasn't harmed us, if anything, it has only improved us as a group and as a squad."

Rodgers believes his side showed Barca "too much respect" at Camp Nou and is hoping the Hoops perform with the tenacity and skill displayed in the home 3-3 draw with Manchester City in September.

He said: "There were many aspects of the (Barca) game that we learned from, showing that courage to get on the ball, having that bravery to play, and having respect for the opponent but not necessarily respecting within the game.

"The players then showed that they've learned from that; we're playing them again, at home, so it's a real good measure and our mentality will change.

"The players have shown from that Barcelona game going into the Manchester City game how they've changed.

"It's a tough game for us, of course, an absolutely top-class team with arguably the best front three (that) has played for Barcelona, but I would hope it would be a different performance from us."

Rodgers knows that Celtic, under fellow Ulsterman Neil Lennon, were equally unlikely to beat Barcelona when the sides met in the Champions League at Parkhead in 2012.

However, the Hoops triumphed 2-1 with substitute teenager Tony Watt scoring the second and that memorable night, combined with the Manchester City performance, gives Rodgers hope.

"I remember at the time I was really happy for Neil," said the Parkhead boss, who will give striker Leigh Griffiths 24 hours to recover from a tight hamstring.

"The game was virtually played in the two boxes. What it shows is that it can be done," he said.

"This is an incredible atmosphere at the stadium, which we've seen over many years, so we have to use that to our advantage.

"The players certainly can take inspiration from not only that game and the game we had here against Manchester City.

"We showed that we could be equal to them on an evening," he added.

"There are many variables that go into it, you need a bit of luck along the way, you need to play at the top of your game, you need your goalkeeper to play well because you know he'll have to make saves and you hope you can take the opportunities that come your way."

He added: "We believe we have a chance."

  • Celtic v Barcelona, Champions League Group C: Celtic Park,Tonight, 7.45pm

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