Lionel Messi starred on his 700th appearance for the club as Barcelona comfortably beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at home to progress to the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
Barcelona already topped Group F but have confirmed their place in the next phase, with Dortmund ‘s fate no longer in their own hands on the closing matchday.
Luis Suarez scored from Messi’s pass to open the scoring at Camp Nou on Wednesday and then turned provider for the skipper as Barca scored twice in the space of five first-half minutes.
Messi, reportedly set to win a sixth Ballon d’Or next week, added a second assist to a typically glittering individual display by setting up Antoine Griezmann to seal matters after the break with substitute Jadon Sancho firing home late on for Dortmund.
Nico Schulz almost scored a second-minute opener for Dortmund but found Marc-Andre ter Stegen equal to his effort with Messi then unusually wasteful from a free-kick at the other end.
Suarez was flagged offside after converting Messi’s throughball but the same combination led to the opener in the 29th minute, the Uruguay striker coolly converting.
Messi added a second, an arrowed finish from Suarez’s pass, with Barca bursting into life after ex-Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele had to be replaced by Griezmann due to a thigh injury.
Under-fire Dortmund boss Lucien Favre sent on Sancho at the break and Messi was then booked for diving by referee Clement Turpin after going down easily in the box.
Ter Stegen saved from Julian Brandt on the hour and that miss proved key as Barca broke clinically, Messi sending Griezmann clear to slot home his first Champions League goal for the club.
Sancho smashed home a super strike to give Dortmund a consolation, but they must better Inter’s result at home to Barcelona when the Bundesliga side face Slavia Prague at home next month.
Sancho’s future in the Champions League now looks in doubt with Inter climbing above Dortmund. Barcelona go through as group winners.
Messi will need more help from his friends to lift another European Cup. Frenkie De Jong was outstanding in midfield and Barcelona will be pleased to have Suarez, Griezmann and the Argentine scoring in the same game at the Camp Nou for the first time.
This was a potential slip-up. It turned into just another landmark – 700 and counting.