A Lionel Messi-roused Barcelona booked their place in the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday by pulverizing an edgy Borussia Dortmund 3-1, while RB Leipzig made the last 16 for the first time with a mind blowing stoppage time rebound.
The Argentine scored one and set up the other two for Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann to exact a punishing defeat on Dortmund and climb up to 11, four in front of the Germans and Inter Milan, who won 3-1 at Slavia Prague.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said that “He (Messi) was incredible, It’s all about what he does and when he does it. It was a performance to put us through.”
Messi got the ball with a perfect pass which permitted Suarez to open the scoring in the 29th moment. Messi, who has scored multiple times in his last 9 games.
Dortmund descend to third behind Antonio Conte’s Inter side, who thundered to a fine success which keeps alive their expectations of a spot in the following round.
Romelu Lukaku’s first Champions League goal for Inter and a Lautaro Martinez double observed off an energetic Slavia side that had levelled in the 37th minute through a VAR-awarded Tomas Soucek punishment after Lukaku thought he had multiplied his side’s lead.
Lukaku had another strike prohibited for offside by VAR in the dying moments, yet it had no effect in the result and now a success over Barca at the San Siro next month will promise them a place in the last 16.
Conte said that “We’ve given meaning to the match with Barca by winning tonight, We are expecting a tough, great match, but we know that we can count on 80,000 people who will come to the stadium to push us on.”
Leipzig made the knockout stages in exciting style after Emil Forsberg fired them back from 2 goals down in the last minute to draw 2-2 with Benfica.
The Germans required a point to qualify but looked dejected as the match dragged towards added time, yet Forsberg pulled a goal from the penalty spot in the 90th minute.
Forsberg said that “Reaching the knockout stages for the first time in the club’s history means that we’re doing the right things and moving in the right direction. I’m just so proud.”
Liverpool and Napoli were made to sit tight for their spots with a nervous 1-1 draw at Anfield.