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Lionel Messi, hat-trick contra el Viktoria Pilsen / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

A record breaking FC Barcelona finished off the night with a great victory that ensures their spot of in the next round of the Champions League. The 0-4 rout started with a penalty and red card for Cisovsky halfway through the first half, converted by Messi, author of yet another hat-trick, and Cesc Fábregas added one to the tally as well. It's almost as if the game had been scripted; it was Guardiola’s 200th game on the Barça bench, Messi bagged a hat-trick, and scored the 500th goal for Barça with Guardiola at the helm. There story doesn't end there: Valdés broke Reina’s long standing unbeaten record, Cuenca once again was brilliant with an assist to Cesc, and Alexis Sánchez was back in full form.

With this victory, Barça not only secures a spot in the next round of the competition, but they also are group leaders after AC Milan drew in Minsk (1-1).

Valdés, a masterclass save and a record

Just like the game against Mallorca, Guardiola played with two very wide wingers, Adriano and Cuenca, to open up the Czech defence. With Iniesta and Xavi on the bench, Cesc, Thiago, and Messi were on midfield duty. Initially it was not easy for the midfield to string their passes together, and Viktoria Plzen playing compactly in defence and quick on the take, almost got the edge early in a fast counterattack by Ptzela. Ptzela blazed down the pitch in the first real opportunity of the match, it was a one on one showdown with Valdés. The Barça keeper, however, was up to the task and managed to block Ptzela’s shot with a spectacular save; a save that allowed him to break the legendary unbeaten record set by Miguel Reina. The play was reflective of how the game had progressed to that point, Barça was found it difficult to take control of the game.

Messi brace

A brilliant run by the Argentinian destroyed the Czech defence in one fell swoop. Messi had dribbled the last defender, and with only the keeper to beat, was taken down by Cisovsky. The play meant two things, a red card for Cisovsky and a penalty kick for Barça. Messi converted the penalty, which took his all time goal tally to 200, and Barça was ahead. With a man up, Barça started to dominate the game, and Viktoria, in turn, responded with more physical play.  Just before halftime, a brilliant passing play ended with Messi scoring the second of the night.

Cesc and Thiago, ready

The second half started just like the first one ended, with Barça dominating. The first chance was born from a great passing play between Cesc and Messi that unfortunately went wide of the Czech goal. Seconds after, Pavlik with a tremendous save forced Messi’s free kick wide. With the game clearly going the visitors’ way, Guardiola rotated out some of the starters, Sergio, Alves, and Abidal came off for Keita, Maxwell, and a fully fit Alexis. Meanwhile, Messi’s pass and Thiago’s followup header almost ended in the back of the net if it hadn’t been for the cross bar.

Golazos to get to 500

Barça wanted to put the game beyond reach of the Czech team, and did so when Cuenca brilliantly assisted Cesc. The Barça B player’s pass was a perfect cross for Cesc Fábregas’ header. It was Barça’s third of the night. In the dying moments of the game, Piqué showed off some of his technical skill with a back heel assist to Messi. The Argentinian danced around the keeper and sealed his second hat-trick in as many games, as well as the 500th Barça goal under Guardiola. It was the perfect ending to a game that mathematically ensures Barça’s spot in the next round of the competition.

The Details

The Goals:
0-1, Messi (min 22, pen)
0-2, Messi (min 45+1)
0-3, Cesc (min 71)
0-4, Messi (min 90+2)


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