After 60 minutes of play, it looked like Spartak Moscow had the right plan in place to pull off a massive upset. They led 2-1 thanks to a Dani Alves own goal and a lovely counter attack strike from Romulo and were defending well. Unfortunately, it's a 90 minute game and Lionel Messi awoke from a quiet performance (by his standards) to propel Barca past Spartak with two late goals.
Gerard Pique left the match in the 12th minute with some kind of foot injury, forcing Alex Song off the bench in to the defense. In the 14th minute Cristian Tello got Spartak defender Kirill Kombarov to go to ground and then jumped inside to create space before unleashing a low show that beat Andriy Dykan to the far post.
In the 29th minute, Spartak's Emmanuel Emenike blew past Barca's high line and sent a low cross that nutmegged Alex Song as he attempted to clear before rolling to Alves who inexplicably did a fancy back hell move and easily beat a stunned Victor Valdes. It was a beautiful ugly own goal.
Barcelona pressed forward as you would expect in the second half, but the well organized and compact Spartak formation forced them to play very narrow. As Barca got more greedy, Spartak started to get more chances on the counter and in the 58th minute they struck. A save by Dykan on Messi set the break loose and after a series of great passes, Romulo blew past Adriano and beat Valdes to the far post. Just a wonderful moment of counter attacking play.
As the minutes ticked away you thought Spartak might be able to hold on, but their fate was of course inevitable.
Tello picked up a long cross in the 71st minute right against the end line. He completely blew past Aiden McGeady and charged towards goal. As the Spartak defense collapsed, Tello made a quick pass to a wide open Messi who calmly redirected the ball in to the net.
Of course, why draw when you can win it?
In the 80th minute, Lionel Messi somehow split and out jumped two defenders to get his head on a Pedro cross, putting Barca back ahead 3-2. There were six red Spark shirts in the box and the smallest man on the pitch won a header to get a goal...now that's determination.
The result gives Barcelona their 17th straight home victory in European competition.
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