Barcelona reach last 16
Lionel Messi surpassed the 200-goal mark for Barcelona to help them reach the last 16 of the Champions League following a 4-0 victory over Viktoria Plzen.
Last Updated: 01/11/11 10:33pm
Lionel Messi surpassed the 200-goal mark for Barcelona to help the defending European champions progress to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday following a comfortable 4-0 away victory over 10-man Viktoria Plzen in Group H.
The 24-year-old broke the deadlock for the Blaugrana in Prague with a penalty on 24 minutes after himself earning the spot-kick following a challenge by Marian Cisovsky, who was subsequently given his marching orders.
That was Messi's 200th goal for Barca and he scored his 201st on the stroke of half time with a neat finish from close range to virtually end the game as a contest.
Thiago Alcantara's header came off the Viktoria crossbar midway through the second half but Cesc Fabregas' effort just minutes later went in.
And Messi completed his hat-trick in injury time to wrap up a comprehensive win for Pep Guardiola's side.
It was a night of landmark for the Spanish champions, as Guardiola completed his 200th game as coach and goalkeeper Victor Valdes broke Miguel Reina's 39-year-old club record of 824 minutes without conceding a goal.
Barca, though, uncharacteristically resorted to long-range shots early in the game, with Messi's effort causing alarm for keeper Roman Pavlik and Thiago Alcantara shooting over.
For the Czech side, Milan Petrzela drew a fine save from Valdes and Daniel Kolar fired Frantisek Kolar's cross over.
Pavlik saved Fabregas' 30-yard strike but the breakthrough came when Messi netted from the spot after being brought down by Cisovski, who as last man was sent off.
Pavlik saved from Messi again and youngster Isaac Cuenca curled an effort wide before the busy home custodian made yet another sharp save from the Argentina international.
Messi's 201st Blaugrana goal arrived in first-half stoppage time, though, when he exchanged passes with Adriano and finished left-footed low past Pavlik.
Fabregas' chip drifted just wide after he was threaded through by Messi early in the second half, and Rajtoral made an excellent last-ditch clearance to deny Messi a tap-in as the same players linked up once more.
Magnificent trickery by Cuenca came to nothing as Messi was crowded out on the edge of the box, but both teams then went desperately close to the night's third goal.
Two more goals
First Petrzela volleyed Daniel Kolar's cross into the side-netting with Valdes helpless, then Thiago headed Messi's cross against the bar and was unable to connect with the rebound from a prone position.
Barca went 3-0 up through Fabregas in the 72nd minute, though, when he arrived unmarked to nod home Cuenca's cross.
Guardiola immediately took the opportunity to hand Chile forward Alexis Sanchez his return from a near two-month absence, in place of defender Eric Abidal, and the newcomer had a cross-shot saved by Pavlik.
Messi was unable to convert a Sanchez cross which arrived at an awkward height, but his hat-trick arrived in the 92nd minute when he ran onto a backheel from centre-half Gerard Pique and finished coolly.
|Viktoria Plzen||Team Statistics||Barcelona|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|1||Shots on Target||11|
|2||Shots off Target||5|