Saturday 14 December 2019

Outstanding Messi scores on 700th appearance

Champions League round-up

Messi: On the scoresheet again. Photo: Getty Images
Messi: On the scoresheet again. Photo: Getty Images

Lionel Messi scored in his 700th match for Barcelona and also set up goals for Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann as the Catalans beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 last night to seal a spot in the Champions League knockout stages as Group F winners.

Suarez put Barca in front at a packed and rocking Camp Nou in the 29th minute after having an earlier effort ruled out for offside before the Uruguayan set up Messi on his landmark night four minutes later.

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Griezmann finished off a pass from Messi to further stretch Barca's lead in the 67th minute and get a much-needed goal for his confidence after failing to score in his previous six appearances for the club.

Dortmund's England forward Jadon Sancho scored an impressive consolation strike for the Germans in the 77th minute and then forced Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to turn a shot on to the crossbar.

But the visitors' strong finish could not tarnish a therapeutic win for Barca, who had come in for scathing criticism for their recent poor displays.

Inter Milan, meanwhile, struck late to beat Slavia Prague 3-1. Lautaro Martinez put Inter ahead in the 10th minute, connecting with a pass by Romelu Lukaku, who beat two Slavia defenders on the right side of the box.

The two swapped roles in the 35th minute, but the video ref disallowed Lukaku's effort because of a foul.

Tomas Soucek levelled for Slavia but Inter sealed victory in the last 10 minutes when Lukaku shot into an empty net after his marker slipped, allowing the Belgian striker to score his first Champions League goal of the season. Martinez sealed victory for the Italian side in the 89th minute.

Barcelona lead Group F on 11 points and have qualified for the last 16. Inter and Dortmund are level on seven points with Slavia bottom on two.

Emil Forsberg struck twice late in the game to earn RB Leipzig a 2-2 draw against Benfica that saw the Bundesliga side advance to the Champions League knockout stages.

Sweden international Forsberg scored an 89th-minute penalty and then headed home another in stoppage time to send the Germans through with a game to spare and end Benfica's Champions League hopes for this season.

Goals from Pizzi and Carlos Vinicius had put the visitors ahead before Forsberg's brace completed the hosts' late turnaround.

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