Barcelona strolled through to the Last 16 of the Champions League after defeating Spartak Moscow 3-0 in Russia.
Barcelona went into this game with a strong starting XI and the knowledge that three points achieved against former Valencia boss Unai Emery’s Russians would seal the Catalans’ place in the Last 16.
The early pattern of play saw the Spanish visitors take possession and Spartak prepared to sit back and try to spring out on counter-attacks. However, it was a longer pass from Andres Iniesta that allowed Pedro to control and volley in the area to draw the first save of the match.
Barca’s pressing paid off after 15 minutes, as Lionel Messi’s determined tracking of the ball around the D saw him eventually win it back and poke it across to Dani Alves, whose low finish beat Andriy Dykan from just outside the area.
Spartak briefly responded but Marek Suchy was guilty of missing their best chance midway through the half, before Messi bounced in a rebound from Iniesta’s shot to double Barca’s lead at the other end.
La Blaugrana thought they had a penalty with 10 minutes of the half remaining when Pedro was seemingly brought down by the ‘keeper, but the referee pulled up the Spain international for simulation, booking him.
Pedro redeemed himself soon after by playing through Messi for his second and the team’s third, as he rounded the exposed goalkeeper.
The visitors’ advantage by the break was reflected in how play developed from the start of the second half, with Cesc Fabregas and Pedro both spurning good chances to add to the scoring after neat passing moves.
Pace in the play slightly dropped with Barca maintaining possession and not pushing, whilst Spartak struggled in the final third with the final pass whenever they countered.
Messi had a couple of half-chances fall to him for a hat-trick, only for his touch and Dykan’s alert runs out of his goal working against the Argentine.
Spartak Moscow 0-3 Barcelona
Alves 16 (B), Messi 27, 39 (B)
Spartak Moscow: Dykan; K. Kombarov (Welliton 62), Suchy, Insaurralde, Makeev; Jurado, Carioca (Bryzgalov 75), Kallstrom, D.Kombarov; Ari, Emenike (Ananidze 62)
Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Jordi Alba (Montoya 87); Fabregas, Xavi (Song 81), Busquets; Pedro (Deulofeu 85), Messi, Iniesta
Ref: Bebek (CRO)
Betting on La Liga? Bet365 are offering a 100% deposit bonus, up to £200 - find out more