Messi breaks Bhoys hearts

Argentina ace bags double at Celtic Park

Last Updated: 20/02/08 11:18pm

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Barca celebrate Henry's leveller

Barca celebrate Henry's leveller

Sky Bet

Lionel Messi helped himself to a brace as Barcelona twice fought back from a goal down to claim a 3-2 victory over Celtic in the first leg of the last 16 tie.

The Liga giants controlled the early stages of at Celtic Park but fell behind in the 16th minute when Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink nodded home Lee Naylor's pin-point cross from the left.

The home side were on front for less than two minutes before Messi played a delightful one-two with Deco before chipping the ball over the on-rushing Artur Boruc.

However, Celtic were not to be denied and they were back in front before half-time when Barry Robson's looping header from Aiden McGeady cross caught Victor Valdes clutching at thin air.

Barca came out positively after the interval and levelled matters through Thierry Henry's sublime right-footed curler before winning the contest thanks to Messi's close-range effort on 79 minutes.

The fluid and inventive visitors took control from the first whistle and only a great save by Boruc from Andreas Iniesta's drive and a headed clearance off the line by Paul Caddis to stop Henry's goal-bound shot kept the Hoops goal intact.

First effort on goal

But in the 16th minute, when the home side came up for air for the first time in the match, they took a sensational lead with their first effort on goal.

McGeady's attempted cross from the left was knocked back out to Naylor but his delivery was powered home by the head of Vennegoor of Hesselink past Victor Valdes from 10 yards out.

Two minutes later, Iniesta and Messi played a one-two inside the Celtic penalty area and despite Naylor's attempted clearance, the ball looped over

Boruc and the little Barca striker took the acclaim of his team-mates.

The game looked to have turned in the visitors' favour but there was more drama in the 38th minute when McGeady turned inside Iniesta, lofted the ball in to the Barcelona penalty area and Robson stretched to lift his header over the despairing Valdes from just inside the box.

Stunned Barca began the second half as impressively as they had begun the first but their equaliser in the 52nd minute came only after Celtic defender Gary Caldwell carelessly gave the ball straight to Ronaldinho.

The Brazilian superstar quickly moved it on to Henry on the left-hand side of the penalty area and the Frenchman took a touch before curling the ball past Boruc.

One-way traffic

It was one-way traffic. Henry knocked Eric Abidal's cross just past the near post but, as the game took a breather, Massimo Donati, on for Paul Hartley, drew a decent save from Valdes with a low drive from 30 yards.

Barcelona should have taken the lead in the 75th minute when substitute Xavi, on for Deco, planted a free-kick right on the head of Gabriel Milito but again Boruc blocked the close-range header.

But in the 79th minute, in yet another Barca attack, Messi got the break of the ball inside the Celtic penalty area, dragged it back on to his left foot and curled a wonderful shot past Boruc.

In the second minute of injury-time, Celtic substitute Georgios Samaras, on for Vennegoor of Hesselink, was booked for diving in the Barca penalty area following a challenge from Yaya Toure.

The Celtic fans protested but, when the final whistle sounded soon after, they gave both sets of players a standing ovation as they left the field.

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