More history for Messi as Barca battle past Slavia Prague

Lionel Messi made Champions League history as Barcelona scraped an unconvincing 2-1 success at Slavia Prague to move top of Group F.

Messi became the first player to score in 15 consecutive seasons of the competition by putting the visitors ahead inside three minutes.

Czech champions Slavia deservedly levelled through Jan Boril early in the second half, but Barca secured a sixth successive win in all competitions thanks to a fortuitous own goal from Peter Olayinka.

Victory for Ernesto Valverde’s men moved them on to seven points from three European fixtures and above Borussia Dortmund in the table following the German club’s 2-0 loss to Inter Milan at the San Siro.

Slavia, meanwhile, were left with nothing to show from a positive performance and slip to the bottom of the standings on a solitary point.

In-form Barcelona wasted little time in asserting themselves on the contest and went ahead when Messi seized on sloppy play from Petr Sevcik to claim his 113th Champions League goal.

The Argentinian anticipated a loose pass from the Czech midfielder and, after exchanging passes with Arthur, emphatically slotted a composed first-time finish into the bottom left corner.

The early opener momentarily silenced the Sinobo Stadium and Slavia could easily have been overawed by their high-profile opponents.

But the hosts quickly regained composure and had the better of the first-half chances as Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was forced into a string of fine saves.

Germany goalkeeper Ter Stegen instinctively denied Jaroslav Zeleny with his legs and was later thankful that the unmarked Lukas Masopust produced a tame finish, before being forced to tip over from Nigerian forward Olayinka.

The visitors remained a substantial threat at the other end, particularly on the counter-attack, and were perhaps culpable of over-playing in the final third.

Ernesto Valverde saw Barcelona struggle to overcome Slavia Prague
Ernesto Valverde saw Barcelona struggle to overcome Slavia Prague (Peter Byrne/PA)

Luis Suarez and Frenkie De Jong each had decent openings to double the advantage but, on the balance of play, Valverde would undoubtedly have been relieved to reach the break with the slender lead still intact.

The hosts continued to rattle Barcelona and were rewarded with a deserved equaliser five minutes after the restart.

Masopust made amends for squandering his earlier chance, chesting down a long ball forward and producing a perfectly weighted pass for left-back Boril to poke beyond Ter Stegen.

Barca were on the back foot but regained the lead against the run of play seven minutes later thanks to a large slice of luck.

🔵🔴 Leo Messi has now scored in 15 consecutive seasons! ⚽️#UCLpic.twitter.com/wcf2tuXPB3

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 23, 2019

Former Liverpool forward Suarez, without an away goal in the Champions League for more than four years, attempted to divert a deep Messi free-kick back across goal and saw the ball take a heavy deflection into the net off the unfortunate Olayinka.

Suarez then wasted a golden chance to put the Spanish side in complete control when he fired wide after being slipped in by Messi, while the latter was later uncharacteristically off target from close range with an unconventional finish.

Once again Slavia came back into the contest and Barca were forced into a series of late blocks during a prolonged period of Slavia pressure to escape home with maximum points.

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