Late Messi double saves Barca
Argentinian star denies Shakhtar famous victory
By Ben Collins. Last Updated: 01/10/08 10:30pm
Messi: Wheels away after winner
Lionel Messi came off the bench to stun Shakhtar Donetsk and spare Barcelona's blushes with two late goals.
The Ukrainians took a deserved lead on the stroke of half-time through Ilsinho and looked on course for a famous victory after Samuel Eto'o missed a gilt-edged opportunity midway through the second half.
But Messi grabbed a controversial equaliser in the 87th minute before producing a sublime finish in the fourth minute of stoppage time to maintain Barca's 100% start in Group C.
Barca coach Josep Guardiola had chosen to start with Eto'o and Thierry Henry while leaving Messi and fellow wonderkid Bojan Krkic on the bench, and he should have been celebrating an opener in the seventh minute.
Seydou Keita superbly picked out Henry in the right channel and the France striker took one touch before volleying too close to goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.
Shakhtar hit straight back and caught Andres Iniesta napping on the left, with Carles Puyol having to deflect Fernandinho's shot over following Ilsinho's cut-back.
Shakhtar put in a series of hefty challenges which appeared to unsettle their illustrious visitors and Fernandinho volleyed over following a long throw-in.
Barca were struggling to find any sort of fluency, although Daniel Alves tested Pyatov low to his right with a long-range effort.
Having dominated possession in the first half, Barca had a huge let-off after Shakhtar broke down the left.
Brandao played the ball inside for Luiz Adriano, who then slipped the ball into Ilsinho's path on the right side of the box, but his side-footed finish deflected off keeper Victor Valdes and went narrowly over.
Brandao headed well wide from the resulting corner while Darijo Srna's free-kick was blocked, but Shakhtar's purple patch was rewarded just before the break.
Vyacheslav Shevchuk hit a long ball forward, which was flicked on by Gerard Pique under pressure from Luiz Adriano, and Ilsinho brushed off Puyol before deftly lifting the ball over the onrushing Valdes.
Barca emerged for the second half in determined mood, with Iniesta's surge down the left blocked only by a cynical Srna foul.
Iniesta then fired narrowly wide after cutting inside while Pyatov saved low to his left to turn Alves' curling free-kick round the post.
Guardiola turned to Messi on the hour mark, with Henry making way, and within eight minutes the exceptional Argentinian had put Eto'o through on goal but the Cameroon star hesitated before scuffing his shot agonisingly wide.
Eto'o was hauled off for Bojan shortly after and Shakhtar almost sealed it with 13 minutes remaining when Fernandinho's clever free-kick found Srna, whose first-time volley almost beat Valdes at his near post.
Back came Barca and Messi sent a difficult header over before Bojan fired into the side-netting after a jinking run into the box.
They drew level after refusing to give Shakhtar the ball back from a throw-in, with Pyatov gifting Messi a tap-in after inexplicably spilling Bojan's low cross.
Iniesta was denied a strong penalty shout as the clock ticked down and from virtually the last kick of the game, Messi chipped Pyatov after being expertly played in by Xavi.
|Shakhtar Donetsk||Team Statistics||Barcelona|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||5|
|2||Shots off Target||5|
UEFA Champions League
Wed 1st Oct - Group C
Sporting2 - 0Basel
Shak Donetsk1 - 2Barcelona
Wed 1st Oct - Group A
Cluj0 - 0Chelsea
Bordeaux1 - 3Roma
Wed 1st Oct - Group D
Liverpool3 - 1PSV
A Madrid2 - 1Marseille
Wed 1st Oct - Group B
Anorthosis Fama3 - 1Panathinaikos
Inter1 - 1W Bremen
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H