Celtic 0-2 Barcelona: Lionel Messi double seals Champions League progress
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 24/11/16 8:17am
Barcelona progressed to the Champions League knockout stages as Lionel Messi scored twice to knock Celtic out of Europe with a 2-0 win on Wednesday.
The Spanish side are guaranteed to top Group C with a game to spare thanks to a goal in either half from Messi, who returned to the side having missed Barca's goalless draw with Malaga last weekend.
The Argentina international put the visitors ahead with a fine near-post finish on 24 minutes, before adding a second from the penalty spot 10 minutes after half-time.
Moussa Dembele had squandered Celtic's best chance minutes prior to Messi's second, with the defeat ensuring Brendan Rodgers' team finish bottom of the group, without the opportunity to drop into the Europa League.
Luis Enrique made five changes from their draw on Saturday, including the return of Messi following illness.
And the Argentina superstar took just 24 minutes to get back on the scoresheet, latching onto a superb Neymar pass before firing home first time.
Messi had wasted three presentable opportunities before his opener, with Barcelona dominant and Celtic happy to play on the counter.
The hosts carved out one chance before half-time as the lively Dembele forced a routine save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
A superb stop from Craig Gordon denied Luis Suarez just before half-time, but Celtic reemerged after the break with renewed vigour.
Ter Stegen kept out a low shot from Callum McGregor before Dembele squandered a golden opportunity to level, heading straight at the Barca goalkeeper when unmarked six yards out.
And the visitors made the young striker pay, winning a penalty through Suarez with their very next attack. The Uruguayan rolled Emilio Izaguirre, who cheaply brought his opponent down, and Messi made no mistake to put Barcelona in control.
Messi had the chance to grab a hat-trick but dragged wide and while Rodgers threw on Patrick Roberts and James Forrest in an attempt to force the issue, Celtic rarely threatened in the closing stages.
Seven yellow cards were handed out in a feisty encounter, with Neymar, who was involved in a running battle with Mikael Lustig for much of the evening, and Ivan Rakitic ruled out of Barca's final group stage fixture, against Borussia Monchengladbach on December 6.
As for Celtic, they face Man City at the Etihad but cannot qualify for the Europa League due to their inferior head-to-head record with the Bundesliga side.