BARCELONA: Lionel Messi was on target for a third Champions League tie in succession as Barcelona won 2-1 at home to Dynamo Kiev.
The Argentine, who had also scored spot-kicks in wins over Group G opponents Ferencvaros and Juventus, tucked away a penalty in the fifth minute while Gerard Pique netted in the second half, glancing in a fine cross from Ansu Fati.
Dynamo, who were missing six players due to COVID-19 positives, which also afflicted five members of staff, gave a decent account of themselves and spurned a couple of chances to equalise as well as having a goal from a corner ruled out due to the ball going out of play.
They deservedly pulled a late goal back in the 75th minute when Viktor Tsygankov slid the ball into the net, pouncing on a rebound after Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen could only parry a shot from Benjamin Verbic.
The victory put Barca on the verge of a place in the knockout stages, leaving them top on nine points after three games, with Juventus second on six and Dynamo and Ferencvaros with a point each.
RESULTS – Gp E: Chelsea 3, Rennes 0; Sevilla 3, Krasnodar 2. Gp F: Zenit 1, Lazio 1; Brugge 0, B. Dortmund 3. Gp G: Barcelona 2, D. Kiev 1; Ferencvaros 1, Juventus 4. Gp H: Basaksehir 2, Man. Utd 1; RB Leipzig 2, PSG 1.
But the night’s ties also saw a disappointing 2-1 defeat for Manchester United away to Basaksehir in Istanbul.
United’s defending this season has been consistently poor. This was the sector where transfer supremo Ed Woodward and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had failed to act as decisively as they needed. Confidence and cohesion had also been disturbed by the problems surrounding captain Harry Maguire on and off the pitch.
They were not helped by poor covering from the midfielders who allowed former United midfielder Demba Ba to dart forward from inside his own half. He ran the length of the pitch before shooting easily past Dean Henderson.
Basaksehir, content and possibly even surprised to score their first Champions League group goal so early and so easily, then sat deep in defence and challenged United to try to break them down. Ex-Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel was at the heart of Turkish resistance, denying both Fernandes and Anthony Martial.
However it was Fernandes who was at fault when Basaksehir extended their lead in the 39th minite. He lost control of the ball in midfield, Juan Mata was taken by surprise and Ikfan Kahveci crossed for Edin Visca to score.
United needed a response before half-time and Martial provided it from Shaw’s assist.
Solskjaer rung the changes in the second half in search of an equaliser. Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba failed to achieve an instant breakthrough after arriving on the hour so teenager Mason Greenwood joined the action to try to extend United’s run of 10 away victories in succession.
United, increasingly desperate, set up camp around the Basaksehir penalty area but Skrtel & Co continued to hold out. Instead the best opportunity fell to hosts’ substitute Fredrik Gulbrandsen. His dash for goal was foiled by the fast-covering Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Maguire saw a header cleared off the line by Alexandru Epureanu in stoppage time before Baseksehir celebrated their famous victory.