Messi magic sends Barca through
Barcelona booked their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League despite drawing with Basel at Camp Nou.
Last Updated: 04/11/08 11:06pm
Barcelona booked their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League despite Basel coming away from Camp Nou with a creditable 1-1 draw.
Lionel Messi needed just one minute and 45 seconds to eclipse everything that had preceded his arrival from the substitutes' bench on the hour mark, as his stunning goal helped Barcelona to the next round, despite fellow substitute Eren Derdiyok's goal for Basel.
Prior to Messi's arrival proceedings at Camp Nou had been distinctly unremarkable but when once Pep Guardiola had seen enough and summoned his Argentine prodigy, the game was graced by a sublime piece of individual genius.
A slalom run saw the ball tied to the schemer's left boot and after cutting inside and exchanging a clever one-two with Thierry Henry, Messi cushioned a neat finish beyond Franco Costanzo.
Prior to Basel's visit to Catalunya, Guardiola's side had scored 22 goals in six games and it was such a statistic that appeared to weigh heavy on the minds of the Swiss.
Replete with a packed midfield and defence, there was a robust efficiency about Basel that Barcelona struggled to break down, as the rested Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Xavi were left to muse that their places must be safe for now.
Barcelona were pretty enough on the eye but in the first 45 minutes only ever flirted with the idea of breaking the deadlock. Henry had the half's first and arguably finest opportunity in the fourth minute, when he bent wide after cutting inside from his favoured left flank.
Handed the central playmaking mantle in Xavi's absence, Andres Iniesta floated about the park with neat touches and twice asked questions of Costanzo in Basel's goal from range.
Rafael Marquez lifted a trademark free-kick onto the top of Basel's goal before Henry burst into the box but lost out to Costanzo, who had raced off his line to smother.
While Basel's forward forays were kept to a minimum, striker Marco Streller will rue his profligacy in front of goal, when a meek header from close range failed to bring Victor Valdes into action.
Henry was denied early in the second half as Costanzo again showed alertness in coming off his line, before Guardiola grew exasperated with the lethargy of his charges and called on Messi and Xavi.
Thereafter Barca looked to be easing to a victory as Gerard Pique went close with a header that hit the post after Messi's opener, only for Derdiyok to restore parity seven minutes from time with a fine half-volley from Carlos Alberto Carlitos' pinpoint right wing cross.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||2|
|12||Shots off Target||3|