Messi scores twice as Celtic are knocked out of Europe

Lionel Messi scores

Lionel Messi (centre) converted a floated Neymar ball to put the visitors ahead

Celtic were eliminated from European competition as Barcelona won to secure top spot in Champions League Group C.

Lionel Messi struck the opener from Neymar’s sumptuous pass, and only a stunning Craig Gordon save prevented Luis Suarez from heading home a second.

Moussa Dembele spurned Celtic’s best chance before Messi scored a penalty.

Though Celtic can still draw level on points with Borussia Monchengladbach in third, the German side have a superior head-to-head record.

Brendan Rodgers’ side remain on two points, having lost twice to Barca – who opened the group stage with a 7-0 win over Celtic – and at home to Gladbach.


Dembele (far right) could not bring Celtic level

The Scottish champions, who came through two rounds of qualifiers and a play-off to reach the group stage, visit Manchester City on 6 December, when Barcelona host the German side.

City and Barca have qualified for the last 16, with Gladbach dropping into the Europa League in the New Year.

Celtic come out firing

Rodgers said his team learned all the bitter lessons from the annihilation in Barcelona, and it showed in the early minutes.

Celtic were focused and aggressive. Scott Brown dumped Sergio Busquets on the floor to the roars of the home crowd and there was an aggression about their work that suggested there would be no repeat of the embarrassment of the Nou Camp.

Class won out, though. Barcelona’s threat grew as the opening half wore on. Ivan Rakitic and Andre Gomes went close before the breakthrough came, a familiar act of ruthlessness from two of the planet’s most unforgiving talents.


Celtic will play their final European match of the season early next month

Messi strikes

Barcelona scored their first goal courtesy of a classic piece of telepathy between Neymar and Messi. Celtic did not seem to be in much danger mere seconds before the ball was in their net. They had nine defenders behind the ball and, seemingly, everything under control.

When Neymar took possession on the left their problems began. Nobody pressed him quickly enough. The Brazilian had time to take a look and size up the situation. What he saw was four Celtic defenders waiting for his cross, then a corridor of space, then another five Celtic men behind the corridor.

Into the space ran Messi, as he does. At the precise moment he began his run, Neymar dinked in his delivery, a thing of weighted precision that Messi lashed past Gordon at his near post.

It could have got worse for Celtic very quickly. Messi put in a cross from the right just before the break and, from point-blank range, Suarez could not put it home. Gordon made a terrific save to delay the pain.


Suarez was denied by Gordon, but won the penalty that clinched Barcelona’s win

Two pivotal moments

James Forrest came on for the injured Scott Sinclair at the break and it was the winger who created a golden chance of an equaliser. His cross was met by Dembele, but the striker could not get enough power into his header to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen. It was a big chance, and how Celtic Park groaned in that moment.

Their angst only intensified a few minutes later when Emilio Izaguirre pulled down Suarez and conceded the penalty that Messi converted. It was his fifth goal against Celtic in two Champions League matches this season and his 92nd in the competition overall. Otherworldly.

The rest of it was a procession for Barcelona. Neymar, on a yellow card following a clash with Mikael Lustig, was a bit fortunate not to be sent off before he was taken off, having gone in rashly in a separate challenge on Lustig. The Celtic Park crowd let him have it as he went. Neymar could not have cared less.

One of the last acts was another glaring miss from Suarez from more sumptuous build-up play from Messi. It hardly mattered. Celtic were out of the game, out of the Champions League – and out of Europe.


Messi took his season’s tally of Champions League goals to nine

Live Text

Match ends, Celtic 0, Barcelona 2.

Second Half ends, Celtic 0, Barcelona 2.

André Gomes (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nir Bitton (Celtic).

Foul by Luis Suárez (Barcelona).

Mikael Lustig (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Celtic. Nir Bitton tries a through ball, but Moussa Dembele is caught offside.

Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona).

James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Celtic).

Offside, Celtic. Erik Sviatchenko tries a through ball, but James Forrest is caught offside.

Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

Luis Suárez (Barcelona) hits the right post with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Lionel Messi.

Foul by Sergio Busquets (Barcelona).

Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Mikael Lustig.

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Nir Bitton.

Substitution, Barcelona. Arda Turan replaces Neymar.

Foul by Lionel Messi (Barcelona).

Erik Sviatchenko (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona).

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Barcelona. Marlon Santos replaces Gerard Piqué.

Substitution, Celtic. Patrick Roberts replaces Callum McGregor.

Mikael Lustig (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

Neymar (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Neymar (Barcelona).

Mikael Lustig (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Mikael Lustig.

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Neymar.

Substitution, Barcelona. Lucas Digne replaces Jordi Alba.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Gerard Piqué (Barcelona) because of an injury.

Delay in match Moussa Dembele (Celtic) because of an injury.

Attempt missed. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is too high following a set piece situation.

Substitution, Celtic. Nir Bitton replaces Tomas Rogic.

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