Barcelona Stars Shine In Win Over Dortmund

Reuters

 

Lionel Messi starred on his 700th appearance for the club as Barcelona comfortably beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at home to progress to the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

Barcelona already topped Group F but have confirmed their place in the next phase, with Dortmund 's fate no longer in their own hands on the closing matchday.

 

Luis Suarez scored from Messi's pass to open the scoring at Camp Nou on Wednesday and then turned provider for the skipper as Barca scored twice in the space of five first-half minutes.

Messi, reportedly set to win a sixth Ballon d'Or next week, added a second assist to a typically glittering individual display by setting up Antoine Griezmann to seal matters after the break with substitute Jadon Sancho firing home late on for Dortmund.

Nico Schulz almost scored a second-minute opener for Dortmund but found Marc-Andre ter Stegen equal to his effort with Messi then unusually wasteful from a free-kick at the other end.

 

Suarez was flagged offside after converting Messi's throughball but the same combination led to the opener in the 29th minute, the Uruguay striker coolly converting.

Messi added a second, an arrowed finish from Suarez's pass, with Barca bursting into life after ex-Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele had to be replaced by Griezmann due to a thigh injury.

 

Under-fire Dortmund boss Lucien Favre sent on Sancho at the break and Messi was then booked for diving by referee Clement Turpin after going down easily in the box.

Ter Stegen saved from Julian Brandt on the hour and that miss proved key as Barca broke clinically, Messi sending Griezmann clear to slot home his first Champions League goal for the club. 

Sancho smashed home a super strike to give Dortmund a consolation, but they must better Inter's result at home to Barcelona when the Bundesliga side face Slavia Prague at home next month.


 

What does it mean? Dortmund's problems mount

It is now 10 goals conceded in three games in all competitions for Dortmund, who would likely have lost by a greater scoreline had Barcelona kept their foot on the throttle.

Ernesto Valverde called for perspective over Barca's own issues before the game and with his team top of LaLiga and into the next round, he might have a point. He can point to the biggest competitive crowd of the season to answer his critics, too.


Mesmerising Messi leads Barca again

Barcelona did not get going until after Dembele's latest injury, with Messi taking the game by the scruff of the neck. Within just a few minutes he had created two goals for Suarez, though one was chalked off, and scored one of his own to put the game beyond Dortmund before later setting up Griezmann and hitting the crossbar with a free-kick. 

He only hit top form for that brief period in the first half, but it was enough to win the points for Barca, though a rare booking for simulation was a bum note on a performance that saw him set yet another record. Messi has now scored against 34 opponents in the Champions League, one more than Raul and old rival Cristiano Ronaldo.


Favre on the brink

Dortmund coach Favre named a strange lineup with four full-backs included and star man Sancho on the bench, with his side quickly overrun in midfield after a bright start.

A 4-0 Klassiker thrashing away to Bayern Munich recently piled pressure on Favre and his position is even more insecure after another one-sided defeat.


What's next?

Dortmund are away to Jurgen Klinsmann's Hertha Berlin on Saturday, the day before Barcelona are away to Atletico Madrid in a huge LaLiga clash. On the last day of the Champions League group stage on December 10, Barca go to Inter and Dortmund host Slavia.