Messi double lifts Barca

Barcelona win in Glasgow while Fenerbache will take any advantage to Seville.

    Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, hits the winner [AFP]

    Argentine star Lionel Messi scored two goals and Thierry Henry added another to help FC Barcelona beat Celtic 3-2 in the first leg of the Champions League's second round.

    Celtic had gone ahead through Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink in the 16th minute, but Messi equalized just two minutes later.

    Barry Robson restored the Scottish champion's lead in the 39th, but the visitors closed the deficit in the 53rd when Henry scored and then took the lead when Messi got his second in the 79th.

    "It's an excellent Barcelona side,'' Robson said.

    "I think they were outstanding, loads of great players and they're hard to play against.

    "I don't think any of us were good enough tonight ... we need to be braver.''

    Celtic had scored 13 goals in its past three matches, while Barcelona had been struggling to break out of a scoring slump.

    Barcelona deployed three of the "Fantastic Four'' strikers; Messi, Ronaldinho and Henry with Samuel Eto'o on the bench.

    "That's our philosophy of the club, we want the fans to enjoy the game,'' Barcelona assistant coach Johan Neeskens said.

    "If it's possible, we try to play with three up front and it doesn't matter against who we play. I like people like to see an attractive game ... we controlled the game and we deserved to win.''

    Despite silky passing moves, Celtic was largely prevented from driving forward, although an early counterattack saw Scott McDonald upended by Gabriel Milito, with the ensuing penalty claim waved away.

    Celtic's Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink enjoys
    the opening goal [AFP]
    Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc then pulled off a succession of saves to deny Barcelona, punching Andres Iniesta's blistering strike clear in the 13th and denying Henry from the subsequent corner.

    But the Hoops pounced on a counterattack and took a shock lead through Vennegoor of Hesselink to the delight of the home fans.

    Winger Aiden McGeady rounded Carles Puyol and released McDonald, who picked out Lee Naylor.

    Connecting onto Naylor's inswinging cross, the Dutch forward powered in a diving header from point-blank range.

    But the 2006 champions drew level within two minutes. Messi exchanged a slick 1-2 move with Deco before poking home into the roof of the net, with Naylor powerless to intervene.

    Celtic soon had their lead restored through debutant, Barry Robson as he rose above Milito to loop McGeady's cross over goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

    Celtic held onto its lead until halftime despite Messi and Deco's best endeavours.

    Henry brillance

    Barcelona persevered with the high tempo and deft passing after the break, and there were a trio of misses before Henry curled a sublime strike past Boruc.

    Center back Gary Caldwell's wayward pass was intercepted by Ronaldinho, and the Brazilian released Henry for the France striker to score his third goal of the European campaign.

    That caused Celtic coach Gordon Strachan to replace Vennegoor of Hesselink with pacy forward Gerorgios Samaras, but Messi and Henry soon came close to scoring for Barcelona.

    Massimo Donati came off the bench to crack a powerful, low shot at Valdes in the best chance for Celtic in the second half.

    Eto'o, back after being at the African Cup of Nations and from injury, replaced Ronaldinho to give the attack fresh impetus in search of a winning goal before the second leg in Spain in two weeks.

    After Milito drove a header into the arms of Boruc in the 75th, Messi scored his sixth goal of the campaign togive Barcelona the crucial advantage.

    Eto'o accelerated down the right flank and Caldwell's attempted clearance ricocheted off Donati and fell to Messi, who ended Celtic's unbeaten home record in Europe this season.

    Mateja Kezman hits the mark for Fenerbache
    Fenerbache down Sevilla

    Meanwhile, Semih Senturk scored the winning goal in the 87th minute, helping Fenerbahce beat Sevilla 3-2 in the first leg of their Champions League tie.

    Former Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman put the hosts ahead in the 17th minute with a header off a cross from left winger Ugur Boral, but defender Edu Dracena scored an own-goal, his second in the Champions League, in the 23rd to even the score.

    Fenerbahce again took the lead when center back Diego Lugano scored in the 57th with a header off a corner kick by playmaker Alex de Souza.

    Sevilla defender Julien Escude then equalised again from close range in the 66th.

    Senturk replaced Kezman in the 84th in a move which would later be hailed as a masterstroke.

    Sevilla had another chance to score in the 20th when Luis Fabiano snatched a loose ball amid the Fenerbahce defence but his effort from outside the box went well over the bar.

    In the 49th, Sevilla forward Frederic Kanoute tested Fenerbahce's Volkan Demirel with a long range shot, but the ball was tipped away.

    Fenerbahce is playing in the second round of the Europe's top club competition for the first time while Sevilla won the last two UEFA Cup titles.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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