Champions League - Messi seals tidy Barca win

Wed, 20 Oct 21:49:00 2010

Lionel Messi scored both goals as a dominant Barcelona leapfrogged opponents Copenhagen to the top of Champions League Group D with a 2-0 win at Camp Nou.

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David Villa and Dani Alves both hit the woodwork for the hosts, and the Catalans had three goals chalked off for offside.

Senegalese striker Dame N'Doye rattled the crossbar for the visitors with a magnificent half-volley but it was a rare chance in a game which Copenhagen spent chasing shadows.

Barcelona left Xavi on the bench and were without goalkeeper Victor Valdes who was struck down with an illness.

Stand-in stopper Jose Pinto was barely required, though, as Barcelona dominated from the very beginning.

Four minutes in Villa hit the bar with a placed shot from a tight angle after Messi wriggled through the middle to set him up.

Ten minutes later Messi had the ball in the back of the net after Johan Wiland had moments earlier made a save from Maxwell's shot, but the move was ruled offside.

Messi was not to be denied for long, however, and struck his side into the lead on 19 minutes with a swerving left-footed effort from outside the box.

Twice more the hosts looked as if they had doubled their advantage before the interval, only for the goal to be disallowed.

After half an hour Messi played in Villa who chipped nonchalantly over Wiland before the assistant referee waved his flag, then five minutes later Messi himself tucked away Gerard Pique's pass into an empty net only to be pulled back.

Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken shouted furiously from the sidelines but his side had no answer to their brilliant hosts.

Full-backs Eric Abidal and Dani Alves were able to spend most of their time in advanced positions on the flanks, with Alves in particular tormenting opposite number Oscar Wendt every time he had the ball.

The hosts had much the better of the second half but Copenhagen gradually settled and made more use of their possession as the game went on.

And the longer Barcelona went without getting a second, the closer the Danes came to levelling.

N'Doye's individual brilliance caught goalkeeper Pinto cold midway through the second half, but the frame of the goal came to his rescue and Cesar Santin's header from the rebound looped wide.

William Kvist also forced a save from Pinto with an outrageous effort from inside the centre circle.

They could not stop the Spanish champions from creating chances, however.

Alves did not get the reward he deserved for an outstanding display when his drilled shot came back off the post with two minutes remaining, but in stoppage time Messi did settle any nerves by steering Abidal's scuffed cross in from point-blank range.

Barcelona got the result their performance merited and now have seven points after three games, but Copenhagen will take heart from the 0-0 draw between Group D rivals Panathinaikos and Rubin Kazan which keeps them comfortably ahead in the race for qualification to the knock-out stages.

Mark Patterson / Eurosport

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