Wednesday 20 September 2017

Messi hits 200 mark in rout

Lionel Messi scored his 200th goal for Barcelona en route to a hat-trick when he struck from the penalty spot in the 24th minute of last night's Group H match at Viktoria Plzen.

The champions won 4-0 to secure a spot in the last 16. The World Player of the Year earned and despatched the spot-kick to become only the second Barca player to reach the landmark.

The 24-year-old, the Champions league's top scorer in each of the past three seasons, then added a second in first-half stoppage-time to take his tally to 201 on what was his 286th appearance for the club.

Cesc Fabregas added a third before Messi wrapped up the rout. Goalkeeper Victor Valdes set a new club best for minutes unbeaten, passing the 825-minute mark held by Miguel Reina, father of Liverpool keeper Pepe, since the 1972-73 season.

In the same group, Renan Bressan's second-half penalty gave BATE Borisov a 1-1 draw with AC Milan, which meant the Italians also qualified from the group.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the 22nd minute to reward the Serie A champions' dominance, but Ignazio Abate gave away a penalty, which Bressan converted in the 55th minute.

Milan had wanted to win for team-mate Antonio Cassano, who has been in hospital after falling ill on the flight back to Milan following the 3-2 win at Roma on Saturday.

In Chelsea's Group E, Jonas, Roberto Soldado and Adil Rami swept Valenica to a crucial 3-1 success over Bayer Leverkusen at the Mestalla, with Stefan Kiessling striking for the visitors.

Kevin Grosskreutz's seventh-minute goal earned Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 win over Olimpiakos to keep the flame alive for them in Arsenal's Group F.

Irish Independent

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