Another ‘incredible’ record for Messi as group leaders Barcelona edge past Slavia
Lionel Messi claimed another goal-scoring record as Barcelona edged a spirited Slavia Prague 2-1 to stay top of Champions League Group F.
Messi opened the scoring after three minutes, beating Slavia goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar with a low left-footed shot to become the first player to score at least once in 15 consecutive Champions League seasons.
The Argentine, 32, first robbed midfielder Petr Sevcik outside the Slavia box before an exchange with Brazilian Arthur put him neatly through the static home defence.
Barca earned a second on 57 minutes when Slavia winger Peter Olayinka deflected a Luis Suarez close-range shot from an impossible angle into his own net after the hosts had failed to clear Messi’s free-kick.
Olayinka sealed Barca’s sixth straight competitive win but deprived Suarez of a goal that would end his four-year drought in away games in European cup competitions.
Before that, left-back Jan Boril equalised for Slavia five minutes after half-time, capitalising on a superb pass threaded by Lukas Masopust that found him one-on-one with goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen.
Barcelona have seven points from three games and are three ahead of Inter Milan who beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0. Slavia sit at the bottom with a single point.
Barca midfielder Frenkie De Jong admitted Slavia could count themselves unfortunate on the night.
“I think we were a bit lucky today,” he said. “They did good, we were not good enough especially on the ball and then [in terms of] pressure it was not our best game.
“But at the end, we won an away game in the Champions League so we are happy about this. Sometimes you have games like this. Hopefully not too many this season but today was one of them.”
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde also praised the rivals. “The result could have been better, but Slavia took risks, they played very well and made us defend a lot,” he said. “We started very well, we dominated the game, but we also lost the ball a few times and they threatened – they really made us suffer because when they struggle, they boost their offence and that’s exactly what they did today.
“We are at the top of the table and we play the next two games at home. They will show us where we are.”
Commenting on Messi’s milestone, Valverde said: “It is an incredible record. I hope Leo will continue to do well.”
Slavia coach Jindrich Trpisovsky bemoaned Slavia’s bad luck with the ugly second goal. “It’s a shame to lose with a goal like this,” he said.
“When we have five chances and we don’t score, it hurts, because we know that every mistake we make and every chance by our opponent is dangerous. Boril is the only winner on our side tonight, it will be written in history that he scored against Barcelona.
“But if you waste chances in the last minutes that could equalise against Barcelona, it will stay inside you for a long time.”
Valverde made two changes from last weekend’s 3-0 win at Eibar, calling up Nelson Semedo and Gerard Pique to replace Samuel Umtiti and Sergi Roberto, both sidelined with knee injuries.
Jaroslav Zeleny almost grabbed a goal for Slavia on 20 minutes after a superb pass from Boril, but his shot bounced off the feet of a diving ter Stegen.
At the other end of the pitch, Messi curled a free-kick into the Slavia box but Clement Lenglet’s poke was too weak to surprise Kolar, while minutes later Suarez blasted the ball over the crossbar.
Kolar then denied Suarez after a fine pass from Messi before kicking out Frenkie de Jong’s powerful low attempt from inside the box. “The opening minutes were dreadful, but if I look beyond the first twenty minutes I must say the boys played a fantastic game,” Trpisovsky said.
I think we were a bit lucky today. Sometimes you have games like this. Hopefully not too many this season FRENKIE DE JONG Barcelona midfielder
Lionel Messi celebrates with Arthur, centre, after scoring the first goal for Barcelona against Slavia Prague