It was little Leo Messi who made the difference against Dutch team ajax on a cold Wednesday night in Amsterdam with two goals. The Argentine also equalled Raúl’s tally of 71 goals in the champions League – something of a feat in itself.
Barcelona were in desperate need of a goal on Wednesday and the first half of the match wasn’t exactly exciting for the fans. Then Messi popped up in the box with a header that found the Ajax keeper on the wrong side of the net and a defender that was wrong footed and unable to keep the ball out of the net. A scrappy goal by Messi’s standards but that put the Catalans in the driving seat and allowed them to take the bull by horns as it were and control the match better.
It wasn’t an easy match for Barça as they have lost their last two matches in La Liga and Luis Suárez still hasn’t found his scoring boots.Frank de Boer’s side is a team that has a future and on Wednesday night showed in flashes why they were once a feared team in Europe. After 18 minutes Ajax could have made it one nil with a Lucas Andersen shot going just wide of the mark.
Then Davy Klaassen nearly finished off a beautiful build up by Ajax with a left-footed volley only to see Barça keeper Ter Stegen parry it away to safety.
Ajax could have levelled in the 67th minute when substitute Arkadiusz Milik was left unmarked on the right side of the Barcelona area but his header off Thulani Serero’s cross glanced the outside of the far post and out of play.The disaster struck for Ajax when Joel Veltman picked up a second yellow and got his marching orders on 71 minutes. that left Barça with almost 20 minutes to finish the dutch side off, which they did. A one two between Messi and Pedro in the box was enough to win the match and put the Argentine on 71 goals equal to the great Raúl.
Barça are through to the last 16 of the Champions League with this hard fought game on a cold night in Amsterdam. They now face Almería on Saturday in the Spanish League.