24 Nov 2016

Messi too good for Celtic

11:02 am on 24 November 2016

The dazzling Lionel Messi returned from illness to score yet another double to help Barcelona ease into the knockout stages of the Champions League for a 13th successive year with their 2-0 win at Celtic.

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d'Or for a record fifth time.

Lionel Messi Photo: Photosport

Messi, who missed the goalless draw with Malaga on Saturday with a sickness bug, was back to his tormenting best just as he had been when scoring a hat-trick in Barca's 7-0 win in the their Group C fixture at the Nou Camp two months earlier.

Celtic were not humiliated in the same manner but Barca had too much class with Messi their executioner again, latching on to Neymar's dinked through ball to fire first-time past Craig Gordon in the 24th minute and then converting a penalty in the 56th minute.

The brace took Messi's Champions League total to 92 goals, including nine in this season's group stages alone, and though he narrowly missed a hat-trick, his genius ensured Celtic exited all European competition while Barca will progress as group winners.

Arsenal and PSG inseparable

Arsenal and Paris St Germain's hopes of topping Champions League Group A were still in the balance after they played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Emirates.

Lucas's deflected 77th minute header earned PSG a point when it had looked as though a comical own goal on the hour from Marco Verratti would settle the contest between the joint group leaders.

Edinson Cavani gave the French champions a deserved early lead and they looked comfortable until Olivier Giroud equalised with a penalty seconds before the interval.

The two teams, both of whom are already assured a last-16 spot, remain locked on 11 points from five games going into their final fixtures.

Manchester City booked a spot in the Champions League last 16 after securing a 1-1 draw at Borussia Moenchengladbach in their Group C match as both teams had a player sent off.

The hosts, who secured third place in the group and will go into the Europa League, took a surprise lead through Brazilian Raffael before David Silva equalised on the stroke of halftime.

Gladbach were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when captain Lars Stindl was sent off following a second booking but City's Fernandinho also saw red 12 minutes later.

The result lifted second-placed City to eight points, four behind leaders Barcelona, who won 2-0 at Celtic. Gladbach are third on five, three ahead of the Scottish champions.

Spanish football manager Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Fielding a formidable attack with Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas, City coach Pep Guardiola, back in Germany for the first time since leaving Bayern Munich in the close season, made his intentions clear from the start.

His players pressed high in the Gladbach half and controlled possession but the Germans, without a win in their last six league matches, remained disciplined.

City failed to carve out a clear scoring chance and the hosts struck on the break with Stindl charging through and laying the ball off for Raffael to fire in.

Ilkay Guendogan almost equalised soon afterwards but his low shot saved by Yann Sommer.

The keeper also parried Aguero's effort but could do nothing when unmarked David Silva slipped into the box to tap in Kevin de Bruyne's cutback in first-half stoppage time.

Gladbach's night took a further turn for the worse when Stindl was dismissed following a bodycheck off the ball on Nicolas Otamendi.

Fernandinho's sending-off levelled the numbers again and neither team were prepared to risk much for a win in the closing stages as the result suited both.