Messi masterclass sees Barca into quarters

Carla Harmon
January 13, 2018

Messi then returned the favor by setting up Alba to score past hapless Sergio Alvarez in the Celta goal before Luis Suarez made it 4-0 on the night after 30 minutes, when the Uruguayan burst through the defense.

Barca's new record signing Philippe Coutinho - out for three weeks with a thigh injury - was also present as the former Liverpool attacker met his new team-mates.

It was a vintage Messi display, too, and despite netting a couple of goals early on, the finest moment of the first half was his involvement in the third.

Having sealed a 1-1 draw in Balaidos in the first leg, Barcelona go into the tie as the favourites to progress, but Valverde insisted his team will not be thinking about their away goal when the match kicks off.

Celta improved a little after half-time but the damage had been done long before Rakitic's header completed the rout, meaning Barca will join Deportivo Alaves, Leganes, Real Madrid, Espanyol, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Valencia in the last eight.

The evening got even better for the forward a couple of minutes later, as Alba once again found space down the left and teed up Messi, who finished routinely.

Celta looked in disarray and they gifted Barca their fourth three minutes later, with Pione Sisto passing straight to Suarez 12 yards out, allowing the striker to fire home.

Ivan Rakitic headed the fifth goal late in the game to round off the five-star performance of Ernesto Varvelde's side.

Celta had drawn 2-2 at Barcelona in La Liga last month and had gone into Thursday's match after holding Madrid to a 2-2 draw in the league last weekend.

Lega took a 1-0 lead to the Estadio de la Ceramica for the second leg and despite losing 2-1 in that second game, Nabil El Zhar's goal on the night was enough to see them safely through to the quarters.

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