Moscow, Nov 21 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Lionel Messi scored a brace as Barcelona qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League football with a 3−0 demolition of Spartak Moscow.
The Catalan giants bounced back Tuesday from their shock 1−2 defeat to Celtic earlier this month, while under−pressure Spartak coach Unai Emery saw his outclassed team exit the competition.
Spartak showed little of the tenacity that brought them close to victory before a 2−3 defeat at the Camp Nou in September as they equalled their worst−ever margin of defeat at home in Europe.
A point for Benfica against Celtic later Tuesday will ensure the Russians miss out on Europa League action in the new year.
Messi played a part in all of Barcelona's goals, starting with Daniel Alves' 14th−minute opener, when he dribbled through a thicket of hapless Spartak defenders, winning the ball back twice, before it eventually spilled to Alves, who scored with a low shot.
For the second, Messi was in the right place to slot the ball home when goalkeeper Andriy Dikan spilled Andres Iniesta's 27th−minute shot.
Six minutes before the break, the Argentine made it 3−0 when he latched onto a through ball from Pedro and rounded Dikan before stroking the ball into the net.
Messi missed a chance to bag a hat−trick late on when Marek Suchy knocked the ball away from him as he made to fire into an empty net.
Messi's goals take his tally for club and country in 2012 to 80, five off Gerd Muller's 1972 record.