Lionel Messi claimed another goal-scoring record as Barcelona edged a spirited Slavia Prague 2-1 on Wednesday 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 ever to score at least once in 15 consecutive Champions League seasons.
The 32-year-old Argentinian first robbed midfielder Petr Sevcik outside the Slavia box before an exchange with Arthur put him neatly through the static Slavia 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 as the hosts 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 top Group F with 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.
“The result could have been better, but Slavia took risks, they played very well and made us defend a lot,” said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.
“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.”
He added: “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 making history, Valverde said: “It is really 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.
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.—AFP