FC Barcelona v Olympiacos: Barça pass Greek test (3-1)
Catalans maintain perfect start thanks to an early own-goal, Messi’s 100th European goal, and one from Digne
Barça have taken a massive step towards qualification for the Champions League knockout rounds with a 3-1 win which keeps them top of the Group D on nine points. The hosts continue their impressive record of never having lost to a Greek team in Catalonia on a night which saw Barça’s talisman reach a century of goals in European competition.
Telling early pressure
The first half started with Barça taking the initiative and going close early on as Umtiti flicked on a corner which Luis Suárez almost converted at the second post. They continued to probe with Iniesta prominent on the ball. The opener came as Deulofeu made a smart run into the box, received the ball over the top, and whipped in a cross which Olympiacos’ Nikolau put into his own net with Messi loitering behind him.
Barça were all over Olympiacos as Messi began to find some pockets of space in and around the box and Deulofeu was lively on the right flank. Paulinho, who played excellently throughout, hit the crossbar with a good header. Luis Suárez was put clean through but saw his goal bound effort saved excellently by away keeper Protos.
Down to ten
Just before half-time Piqué attempted to apply the finishing touch to a ball that was bouncing around in the box. Unfortunately, the referee adjudged him to have handled the ball and gave him his second yellow card of the night.
Magic Messi reaches century
The blaugranas continued to control the tempo after the break despite being down to ten men. In the 61st minute, Messi stepped up to plant a free-kick from just outside the box over the wall and into the top corner to make it 2-0. Protos got a hand to it but couldn’t keep out the Argentinian star's 100th European goal and 50th goal of 2017.
Two minutes later, Messi was at it again as he jinked through Olympiacos’ defence but couldn’t find the finish. The ball broke to Lucas Digne who made no mistake to score the third of the night.
In the 90th minute, Nikolau made amends for his earlier own-goal as he scored a consolation strike late on. However, this was only a mild dampener on what was an impressive team performance from a Barça side who had to play with ten men for over 45 minutes.