Champions League: Messi toasts 700th game with Masterclass, Liverpool held

A Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona booked their place in the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday by thrashing a desperate Borussia Dortmund 3-1.

The Argentine scored one and set up the other two for Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann to inflict a punishing defeat on Dortmund and move up to 11 points, four ahead of the Germans and Inter Milan, who won 3-1 at Slavia Prague.

Messi started the show with a neat pass which allowed Suarez to open the scoring in the 29th minute, before the Uruguayan returned the favour four minutes later to lay on Messi for his 613th Barca goal on his 700th appearance.

The Barca skipper, who has scored 10 times in his last nine games, was also at the heart of the goal which extinguished Dortmund’s hopes of a result in the 67th minute, slipping a wonderful through ball for Griezmann that the Frenchman could happily stroke first time past Roman Burki.

Dortmund slip down to third behind Antonio Conte’s Inter side, who roared to a fine win which keeps alive their hopes of a place in the next round.

Romelu Lukaku’s first Champions League goal for Inter and a Lautaro Martinez double saw off a spirited Slavia side that had levelled in the 37th minute through a VAR-awarded Tomas Soucek penalty after Lukaku thought he had doubled his side’s lead.

RB Leipzig made the last 16 for the first time with an incredible stoppage time comeback as Emil Forsberg fired them back from two goals down in the final minute to draw 2-2 with Benfica.

Liverpool and Napoli were made to wait for their spots with a tense 1-1 draw at Anfield.

Dries Mertens opened the scoring with a sweetly struck opener midway through the first half, before Dejan Lovren’s header salvaged a point to keep the Reds top of Group E.

However the European champions still need to get at least a point away to Salzburg next month to secure their passage into the last 16, while Napoli need a draw with bottom side Genk to claim their spot.

Ajax also need a point to go through thanks to a 2-0 win at Lille that featured the fastest goal of this year’s competition to open a two-point lead at the top of Group H.

Hakim Ziyech netted after 94 seconds at eliminated Lille with Quincy Promes hitting his fourth of the tournament on the hour mark.

Four-time European champions Ajax have 10 points from five games, two more than Valencia and Chelsea who fought out a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw in Spain earlier in the day.

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