Messi stars in 2-0 away win in group stage encounter
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said that the side played their best match of the season following a 2-0 away win over Cristiano Ronaldo-less Juventus in their UEFA Champions League 2020-21 group stage fixture on Wednesday.
Messi, 33, set up Ousmane Dembele to put Barca in front after quarter of an hour in Turin, adding a second himself from the penalty spot in stoppage time.
Alvaro Morata had three goals ruled out for offside for Old Lady who played the final five minutes a man down after Merih Demiral was sent off for a second yellow card.
The Catalan side are top of Group G with six points after two games with Juventus on three. The reverse fixture takes place at the Camp Nou on December 8.
“This was our best game all season,” said Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman. “This is a big win against an important European side and we were able to play the football we’re trying to impose. I’m very happy with the game and the character displayed by the team, it is a great victory.”
It was a first defeat for new Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo whose last game as a player for the Turin giants was a loss to Barcelona in the 2015 Champions League final.
“We knew it would be a difficult game, they are further along the path, they have players more experienced in these games, while we are under construction,” said Pirlo. “We need to grow. I hope to have the other players back soon. I have no other solutions, those who play have to stay 90 minutes, so it’s difficult when there are matches close together.”
The 35-year-old Ronaldo, the top scorer in the history of the competition with 130 goals, was furious at missing the game.
The Portuguese superstar had needed to test negative 24 hours before the game to take part in his sixth Champions League meeting against Argentine Messi.
They have not faced off since the five-time Ballon d’Or winner left Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018.
Hours before kick-off, the striker posted a photo on Instagram, stating: “Feeling good and healthy! Forza Juve! #finoallafine.”
Adding a comment for his 241 million Instagram followers on the swab tests used to detect the virus, he said: “PCR IS BULLSHIT.”
He later removed that post.
Ronaldo then posted a video of himself wearing the Juventus jersey running on a treadmill in his home gym, jumping off for his usual goal celebration before giving the thumbs up and wishing his teammates ‘good luck’.
The Juventus stalwart first tested positive for Covid-19 on October 13 while playing with Portugal, and has been in self-isolation since returning to Italy. He has reportedly tested positive 18 times.