By Jack Wilkinson
PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Barcelona: Lionel Messi magic wins Champions League group
Report as La Liga champions win group for 12th successive season
Last Updated: 28/11/18 10:48pm
Barcelona wrapped up top spot in Champions League Group B with a Lionel Messi-inspired 2-1 victory over PSV in Eindhoven.
Messi fired Barca ahead with his stunning sixth goal of the campaign on the hour before cleverly picking out Gerard Pique for their second on 70 minutes.
PSV needed to win to keep their faint Europa League hopes alive and struck the woodwork on three occasions in the first half, but Luuk de Jong's consolation came too late as the Dutch champions crashed out of Europe.
The victory sees Barcelona finish as group winners in the Champions League for the 12th successive season and the 20th time overall.
PSV Eindhoven: Zoet (7), Dumfries (6), Schwaab (7), Viergever (6), Angelino (7), Rosario (6), Hendrix (7), Lozano (6), Pereiro (7), Bergwijn (6), De Jong (7).
Subs: Romero (5), Malen (5), Gutierrez (5).
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (7), Semedo (6), Pique (7), Lenglet (6), Alba (6), Rakitic (5), Sergio (5), Vidal (6), Dembele (6), Coutinho (6), Messi (8).
Subs: D. Suarez (5), Malcom (5).
Man of the Match: Lionel Messi.
PSV knew it was win or bust if they were to remain in Europe in the New Year, and they did everything but score in the first half.
After drawing Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a low save on four minutes, Gaston Pereiro pounced on a loose Ivan Rakitic pass on the quarter-hour and came within inches of punishing the Barcelona midfielder as he cannoned a drive against the post.
Pereiro should have fired PSV into the lead midway through the half when De Jong knocked the ball into his path and he skipped away from Pique in the area, but he fired over from yards.
Barca grew into the game as the half drew to a close as Arturo Vidal saw two efforts cleared off the line from successive corners, but PSV went even closer on the stroke of half-time as De Jong glanced a header onto the crossbar and Denzel Dumfries fired a follow-up against the post.
But PSV were made to pay for a catalogue of misses by another mesmeric Messi effort.
PSV were unchanged after Saturday’s victory over Heerenveen, while Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic and Clement Lenglet returned as Barcelona made four changes from their draw at Atletico Madrid.
After initiating an attack and receiving the ball back from Ousmane Dembele, the Argentine weaved away from four defenders before rifling an unstoppable near-post drive past Jeroen Zoet with minimal backlift.
Messi then helped put the game beyond PSV, shaping to shoot for goal from a free-kick before picking out Pique, who diverted the ball beyond Zoet from 12 yards.
PSV pushed and pushed for a goal and finally broke Barca's resolve when De Jong powered a header home from Angelino's left-wing cross on 82 minutes, but an equaliser eluded them on a night that ultimately belonged to Messi.
- Barcelona will finish as the winners of their Champions League group for the 12th consecutive season, with this run starting back in 2007-08.
- PSV are winless in their last 13 games in the Champions League (D5 L8), conceding at least two goals in each of their last five.
- Barcelona have lost just one of their eight games against Dutch opponents in the Champions League (W5 D2), winning each of the last four in a row.
- Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is averaging a goal every 45 minutes in the Champions League this season (6 goals, 270 minutes); the best mins/goal ratio of any player in the competition.
- Lionel Messi has scored 106 goals for Barcelona in the Champions League; the most by a player for a single team in the competition.
Man of the Match - Lionel Messi
Who else? The little maestro took his time to stamp his mark on the game but when he did, it was worth the wait. Messi was the sole catalyst for Barcelona's victory in a game they probably should have lost. He was far from his mesmeric best but the poise and precision with which he took his goal was nothing short of sublime.
PSV travel to Feyenoord in the Eredivisie at 1.30pm on Sunday, while Barcelona host Villarreal in La Liga at 5.30pm.