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Messi rides to rescue for Barca as brace shatters plucky Spartak

Lionel Messi continued his miraculous 2012 with a late brace to rescue Barcelona against Aiden McGeady's Spartak Moscow in Group G.

Barca were trailing 2-1 at the Nou Camp with 20 minutes to go, but Messi first converted Cristian Tello's pull-back and then headed home from close range with 10 minutes left

Ireland winger McGeady had a fine game, tormenting the Catalans' defence and setting up Romulo for the goal which put Spartak 2-1 ahead. Tello got Barca's first on 14 minutes, but the visitors equalised when Dani Alves turned Emmanuel Emenike's teasing cross into his own net.

Romulo's goal had the Russians dreaming of a famous victory, but Messi saved his side yet again.

Bayern Munich hit the ground running in Group F with a 2-1 home win over Valencia. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos struck for the Germans, with Nelson Valdez's injury-time effort a mere consolation. Lille lost 3-1 to BATE Borisov in the group's other game.

In Group H Braga lost 2-0 to CFR Cluj 2 in Portugal, a Rafael Bastos double sinking the hosts to leave Cluj tied at the top of the table with Manchester United.

Shakhtar Donetsk were 2-0 victors over Nordsjaelland in Group E -- Chelsea's group -- Henrik Mkhitaryan netting both goals.

Irish Independent