Millennium Post

Messi sends Barcelona through

Messi sends Barcelona through
Lionel Messi scored twice to equal Raul’s Champions League scoring record as Barcelona secured their place in the knockout stages by beating 10-man Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 on Wednesday. Argentina forward Messi struck in each half and Joel Veltman’s 71st-minute red card completed a disappointing evening for the hosts.

Messi matched Raul’s Champions League record tally of 71 goals thanks to a 36th-minute header and a 76th-minute tap-in, beating Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo to match Raul’s mark. Barcelona lie second in Group F on nine points, one behind Paris St Germain who beat APOEL Nicosia 1-0 in Paris on Wednesday. Third-placed Ajax are still winless in Group F and remain on two points, leaving them vying with APOEL for a Europa League place.

Messi’s close-range header after Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen had failed to clear the ball was more than welcome for the visitors, who had given the hosts reason to believe a repeat of last season’s surprising 2-1 home victory over Barcelona was on the cards. Ajax hopes were shattered, however, when Veltman was shown his second yellow card in the 71st minute.

Five minutes later Messi slid in a low cross by Pedro to secure the win. Luis Suarez made his European debut for Barcelona, playing from the start alongside Messi and Neymar in Luis Enrique’s dream attack but he struggled to impose himself on the game.

It was a return to Amsterdam for Suarez and he received a warm welcome from the home fans who watched him score 81 league goals for Ajax in 110 games. The Uruguayan squandered numerous chances and failed to produce his first official goal in the Barcelona jersey.
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