Messi back in groove as Barca go through

Lionel Messi ended his mini goal drought with a brace as Barcelona booked their place in the knockout stages of the champions League following a comfortable 3-1 win over AC Milan.

Messi had not scored in his past three matches in the Primera Division but broke the deadlock against the Italian giants after half an hour from the penalty spot.

Sergio Busquets doubled Barca’s lead 10 minutes later and although Gerard Pique’s own goal gave Milan hope on the stroke of half-time, Messi settled matters in the closing stages.

The result moves the Catalan club six points ahead of third-placed Ajax with a far superior goal difference, while Milan, who have endured their worst start to Serie A in 31 years, remain second in Group H.

Atletico Madrid also booked their place in the last 16 with a resounding 4-0 win over Group G minnows Austria Vienna.

Centre-back Joao Miranda got the ball rolling by scoring the first after 11 minutes, and soon Raul Garcia doubled the advantage with a headed goal.

Filipe Luis increased the lead on the stroke of half-time and then Diego Costa finally added his name to the scoresheet on 82 minutes.

Diego Simeone’s side will go into the second round draw seeded as group winners, having won all of their four games, a record only matched by last year’s winners Bayern Munich.

Former Porto favourite Hulk was both hero and villain as Zenit St Petersburg remained on course to join Atletico in the last 16 from Group G.

The Brazilian, who swapped Porto for Zenit last year, equalised against his former club soon after Lucho Gonzalez had given the visitors the lead midway through the first-half.

Hulk then saw a tame second-half penalty saved as the Russian side were held to a point that keeps them in second place, a point clear of Porto.


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