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UEFA Champions League
September 19, 2012
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: M. Mažić
• Attendance: 73580
L. Messi 72', 80'
Dani Alves 29' (own goal)
That's all from me, thanks for following Goal.com's LIVE coverage of what was a thoroughly entertaining match at Camp Nou. Messi broke his goalscoring duck against Russian sides, and Barcelona started their Champions League campaign with a win. Good night everyone.
FULL-TIME: BARCELONA 3-2 SPARTAK MOSCOW Tito Vilanova's debut Champions League campaign starts with a win at Camp Nou, but it was far from straightforward. Barca took the lead through Cristian Tello early on, before a Dani Alves own goal made it 1-1 at the break. Spartak's birthday boy Romulo gave his side a shock lead with a well-taken finish on the hour mark, before Lionel Messi proved Barcelona's saviour, notching two close-range goals to secure all three points for his side late on.
90' + 3'
And there is the final whistle! This one has finished Barcelona 3-2 Spartak Moscow.
90' + 3'
Emery urges his men forward for the corner, but it is to no avail, as Suchy climbs over the back of Busquets and concedes a free-kick.
90' + 2'
Here we go! Corner to Spartak in the dying seconds...
90' + 1'
The referee signals for three minutes of added time at Camp Nou.
Barca look content to keep hold of the ball and wind the clock down in these last few minutes, with Spartak struggling to get a hold of the ball.
Messi drives through the Spartak defence in search of his hat-trick goal but loses possession on the edge of the box. Villa looks to take the ball on, but controls it with his arm, and is penalised by the referee.
One more goal will take Barcelona to 800 in UEFA competitions. They've got two minutes plus stoppage time to get it tonight.
Unai Emery's side look bereft of ideas as this game edges towards it conclusion, and Barcelona are well on top. The visitors must be exhausted having hassled and harried Tito Vilanova's side all over the pitch.
In Group G's other game tonight Celtic's match against Benfica remains 0-0.
PEDRO STROKES A SHOT WIDE!! Alexis doesn't look injured to me!! The Chile international was a doubt tonight due to a thigh injury, but since coming on as a sub he's looked full of energy and purpose. After assisting Messi's header, he nearly turns provider once more, this time for Pedro. After receiving the ball on the right-hand side of the area Pedro sends a curling effort towards the bottom left-hand corner that flies just wide of the post.
Vilanova's side have shown real character to come back into this match after going 2-1 down to that Romulo goal on the hour mark, and they now lead 3-2 courtesy of a brace of Messi finishes.
Assist Alexis Sánchez
GOALLLL!!!! MESSI STRIKES AGAIN!! The diminutive Argentine makes it 3-2 with a close-range header from a well-weighted Alexis cross from the left-hand side. Advantage to Barcelona, so late in the game! Messi had never scored against Russian opposition before tonight, now he has scored twice!
Barcelona won't settle for a draw here, and they continue to throw men forward in search of a winner.
FREE-KICK NO. 55 FOR BARCELONA!! And again Xavi wastes it, firing high over the crossbar.
Yellow Card Marek Suchy
Seconds later David Villa has a chance to give Barcelona the lead after the ball falls to him 10 yards out, and with Dykan out of position, it takes a sliding block from Suchy to keep the scores level!
Yellow Card Rômulo
Neither he nor Messi can conjure up any magic from the set piece though, as Xavi backheels it to his team-mate, who then drives a shot straight into the wall.
Xavi is demanding this one it seems...
Meanwhile, Barca have ANOTHER free-kick. Messi curls it into the wall again but the referee has spotted an infringement. Romulo is shown a yellow card for handball, and Barcelona have a free-kick about 10 yards closer to the Spartak goal.
That appears to be Tello's last contribution, as he is replaced by David Villa, but not before being given a standing ovation from the Barcelona fans. He deserves that for his contribution tonight, a fine goal and a lovely assist.
MESSI MAKES IT 2-2!! BARCELONA ARE LEVEL!! What an assist that is from Cristian Tello! The 21-year-old jinxes his way past Makeev on the left before cutting the ball back to Messi, who is stood unmarked 8 yards from goal. It is the simplest of finishes for the Argentine, and he makes no mistake, calmly slotting the ball past Dykan and into the back of the net.
Pedro fires a lovely ball across to Sanchez on the left but his first time cross is wayward and goes straight to the feet of Insaurralde who clears it away joyfully.
Barca are probing the Spartak defence in search of a way into the penalty area but Emery's well-organised side are standing firm at the moment. It's been a superb defensive performance from Spartak, and they have been so clinical on the counter-attack too.
On October 20 in 2009 Rubin Kazan upset the odds to secure a surprise 2-1 victory at Camp Nou, and that was the last time Barcelona lost at home in this competition. Are we going to see another Russian side repeat that scoreline to end Barca's 16-game unbeaten home run in the Champions League? What a story that would be!
Messi tries to curl it over the wall and towards the top right corner with his left foot but the remaining Kombarov, Dmitri, manages to block the Argentine's strike.
Barcelona have yet another free-kick, and what a position this one is in. Just over 20 yards from goal, just right of centre.
Just as I say that he makes his first change! Alexis Sanchez, recovered from a thigh injury, has come on to replace Dani Alves.
Vilanova looks stunned on the sidelines here. Surely he will make changes sooner rather than later?
Seconds before that Romulo strike Lionel Messi had almost scored for Barcelona. The Argentine took a ball down superbly inside the Spartak box before firing a shot at goal that Dykan did well to keep out, and inadvertently start the counter attack that Romulo scored from. The whole complexity of the game changed in the space of 15 seconds there!
Assist Aiden McGeady
SPARTAK HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD THROUGH ROMULO!! The birthday boy has given the visitors the lead here at Camp Nou, slotting the ball under Valdes after a brilliant move from Ari and McGeady set him up and he strode past Adriano to make it 2-1.
Romulo motors through the back of Xavi and Barcelona are awarded a free-kick. Xavi curls it towards Busquets at the near post, and the midfielder manages to flick it on towards goal but it is then cleared away by Suchy.
Mascherano and Song are struggling with the pace and power of Ari and Emenike at the moment, with the away side on top in the last few minutes.
MCGEADY FIRES ONE JUST OVER!! The former Celtic winger drives a shot just over Valdes' bar from 20 yards after being set up well by Carioca. That was not far away!
CHANCE FOR SPARTAK!! Ari bamboozles his way right through the heart of the Barcelona midfield before shifting the ball off to the onrushing Emenike. The striker hits a first-time effort at goal but it is straight at Valdes.
Spartak's makeshift centre-back pairing of Suchy and Insaurralde have done a fine job at limiting the impact of Messi et al. so far in this match. The set-up slightly resembles a bus, but hey, needs must playing away at Camp Nou!
GOAA... Oh, hang on a sec, the linesman has got his flag up! Dani Alves looked to have restored Barca's lead with an emphatic finish from a tight angle after latching on to Xavi's high pass, but the linesman has ruled it out for offside! As you were. Still 1-1 here.
Emenike goes charging down the right and brushes off the challenge from Mascherano but there are no Spartak players in support as he hooks a cross into the Barca penalty area.
Messi looks a bit out of sorts tonight, he hasn't really featured, not as prominently as he normally does anyway. He's never scored against Russian opposition. Will that change tonight?
A fine cross-field pass from Alves finds Tello hugging the left wing. He quickly slots a pass into the path of the overlapping Adriano, who then shoots straight into the palms of Dykan.
Barca work the ball towards Messi on the left-hand side but the attacker makes no effort to latch on to Xavi's pass as he knows he is an offside position.
The teams are back out here at Camp Nou, with one change to report. Spartak are bringing on Yevgeni Makeev to replace Kirill Kombarov, who had endured a torrid time in that first half against Tello and Pedro.
Elsewhere in Group G by the way, Celtic are drawing 0-0 at home to Benfica. All four teams on one point as things stand then.
Join me in 10 minutes for the second half of this finely-poised contest, and in the mean-time why not send me your thoughts on the first half, and predictions for the second, on Twitter at @charliefscott.
HALF-TIME: BARCELONA 1-1 SPARTAK MOSCOW. It looked like it would be plain sailing for the home side in this match after they took the lead through Cristian Tello in the 14th minute, but Spartak had other ideas and equalised 15 minutes later through a Dani Alves own goal after a surging run from the impressive Emenike. Vilanova's side really should be leading though, with Messi and Xavi going close, and the same duo wasting a handful of decent free-kick opportunities. Unai Emery will be delighted with the scoreline at the break though, as Spartak look to break Barcelona's 16-game unbeaten streak at home in this competition.
45' + 2'
The referee blows his whistle to mark the end of the first half. Few would have predicted this scoreline! It's 1-1 here at Camp Nou.
45' + 1'
We are into added time here and Xavi has just nearly made it 2-1 to the home side! After brushing off the challenge of Kallstrom, he fired a shot towards Dykan's goal that went just wide of the left-hand post, much to the Spartak stopper's relief.
Messi fires a firm effort into the box but it is blocked well by Kirill Kombarov, and then cleared away by Carioca.
Yellow Card Emenike
Barca have a free-kick late in this half, and another opportunity to test the visitors from a set piece. Xavi and Messi line this one up...
THAT LOOKED LIKE A PENALTY!! Fabregas gets shoved to the floor inside the penalty area by Suchy but the referee is having none of it and awards a corner. Fabregas, meanwhile, looks fairly bemused by that decision.
Yellow Card Kim Källström
Kallstrom is the next player to make his way into Milorad Mazic's book after flying late into a challenge on Pedro.
Pedro and Tello are getting a lot of joy down the flanks for the home side, and unsurprisingly the likes of Xavi and Fabregas are looking to feed the ball out to them at every opportunity as we head towards half-time.
After some brief treatment from the Spartak medical team he looks right as rain though, and sprints back on to the pitch to continue. You just never know with footballers if it's serious or not!
Emenike has gone down clutching his leg off the ball here. Slightly worrying scenes for the away side, as he has looked one of their brightest players in this first half.
DYKAN TIPS FABREGAS' HEADER OVER!! The former Gunner does brilliantly to get on the end of Xavi's deft throughball and head an effort towards goal, but Dykan in the Spartak goal is a match for it, tipping it over his crossbar and out for a corner.
They are not going to do it like that though! Vilanova's men have wasted a handful of set pieces now, and that is the worst of the lot from Lionel Messi. The Argentine hammers the free-kick straight into the Spartak wall. What a waste!
Kallstrom catches Alves with a high foot on the near side and the referee awards Barcelona another free-kick. The home side will want to make their first-half dominance count by scoring a second before the interval.
Yellow Card Alex Song
YELLOW CARD FOR SONG!! That's an awful challenge from the Barca sub. So so cynical. Emenike looks to push the ball past Song and run onto it, but the Cameroon international has other ideas, and blocks the Spartak attacker off the pitch. That was more like American Football.
Xavi fires the set piece towards the Spartak goal, and is deflected behind for a corner by a posse of defenders. From the resulting corner Busquets nearly restores Barca's lead with a headed effort that bounces a yard or so wide of Dykan's right-hand post.
Yellow Card Kirill Kombarov
FOUL BY KOMBAROV ON PEDRO! The Spartak right-back cannot handle either Pedro or Tello at the moment. He gives away another free-kick, this time right on the edge of his own area, and is shown a yellow card for his troubles.
Own Goal Daniel Alves
GOOALLLL!!! SPARTAK HAVE EQUALISED!! Alves turns the ball into his own net as he tries to clear Emenike's dangerous cross from the right. The Nigerian forward broke quickly away from the attention of Mascherano there, and now the scores are level!
Free-kick to Barcelona over on the left after Pedro is sent crashing to the deck by Kirill Kombarov. Barca cannot make the most of the set piece though, as Alves gives away a cheap free-kick for climbing on the back of Ari as he challenges for the ball.
Mascherano appears to have suffered a knock in a challenge with Kallstrom over on the left-hand side, but manages to get to his feet, and gingerly hobble back into his defensive position. If anything it looked like he fouled the Spartak player there, not the other way round.
MATCH STAT: Barca have won seven of their last eight opening Champions league fixtures when they have been played at home. The only time they didn’t start with all three points was last season in the 2-2 draw with AC Milan.
Spartak's recent signing Kim Kallstrom curls the set piece towards the back post with his wand of a left foot, but it is headed away by Javier Mascherano under pressure from Emenike.
Spartak have a free-kick 35 yards out just left of centre...
Tello has switched wings here, meaning he has gone from facing one Kombarov brother, to facing another! The identical twins, Dmitri and Kirill, line up at right-back and left-back for Spartak tonight.
MESSI MISSES BY INCHES!! The diminutive Argentine hammers a shot just wide of the right-hand post from 18 yards. Barcelona are threatening to score another here at the Camp Nou.
Some good play from Tello nearly creates a chance for Fabregas. The ball is moved quickly from left to right, before being stabbed to Fabregas on the edge of the Spartak box. He looks to curl a shot towards goal but is swiftly dispossessed by Suchy.
Spartak boss Unai Emery told Marca in an interview this week that his side would need 'divine intervention' to win in the Catalan capital tonight, they will certainly have to up their game now!
It's taken Barca just under a quarter of an hour to take the lead here, with the goal coming from the surprise inclusion tonight, Cristian Tello.
GOALLL!!! TELLO SCORES FOR BARCA!! He was offside a couple of minutes ago, but he makes sure he's onside on this occasion! The attacker opens the scoring here with a thumping finish from the edge of the penalty area after cutting in from the left.
Pique had looked okay to continue but after running decides better of it and signals over to the Barca bench that he needs to come off. Recent arrival Alex Song is the man to replace him which means Vilanova is now fielding two midfielders at centre-back: Mascherano and Song.
TELLO IS FLAGGED OFFSIDE!! The Barca youngster strays a yard or so offside and it is seen by the official. Messi had found him with a delightful lofted ball there and Tello will be disappointed with himself.
Despite Pique being off the pitch for the last two minutes you wouldn't be able to tell, Spartak haven't touched the ball in that time!
Pique is receiving some treatment over on the near touchline here, after being caught by a challenge from the Spartak midfielder Romulo.
Lots of you predicting a big Barcelona win over on Twitter. If the home side score four this evening, it will take them to 800 goals in the competition.
NEARLY A CHANCE FOR MESSI!! Dani Alves slips the Argentine forward in with a well-timed pass but before he can get a shot away Rafael Carioca comes flying in with an inch-perfect tackle inside the Spartak penalty area.
Romulo is going to look to enjoy himself tonight, after all it is his 22nd birthday today. Ah, that's depressing, he's younger than me and he's playing against Barcelona....
Emenike wins the first corner of the game for the away side, and after it is headed away by Pique, the Spartak midfielder Romulo attempts a hugely-ambitious overhead kick that goes nowhere near Valdes' goal.
Barcelona finally get the ball under control... It took them all of four minutes! Xavi tries to free Tello down the left with a speculative ball, and the youngster does well to control it with his instep, but is then brushed off the ball by Kirill Kombarov.
Good hold-up play from first Ari, and then the Nigerian forward Emenike nearly creates a shooting opportunity for the visitors, but Gerard Pique squashes that hope by nipping in and clearing the ball upfield.
The Spartak boss Unai Emery has faced Barcelona 12 times in the past, and never won... Will that change tonight? Tweet me your predictions at @charliefscott.
We are off here in Barcelona... Spartak get the ball rolling.
Xavi captains the Catalans tonight in the absence of Carles Puyol, while Unai Emery's former charge at Valencia, David Villa, is on the bench for Vilanova's side.
EVERYONE SHOOK HANDS!! Thank goodness for that.
Out come the teams here at Camp Nou, and there's that wonderful familiar sound of the Champions League anthem ringing around the Camp Nou.
SOUND THE 'OPTIMISTIC ABOUT GETTING AN UPSET' KLAXON: Lionel Messi has never scored against a Russian team AND the last side to beat Barcelona at Camp Nou in the Champions League were Russian, Rubin Kazan back in October 2009. Will Spartak's fans dare to dream tonight?
Spartak introduce Emmanuel Emenike to the starting line-up, after the striker came on as a substitute at the weekend and scored to help Spartak earn a 2-2 draw against Kuban. The visitors line up in Emery's favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, but look slightly more defensive than usual, as the Brazilian defensive midfielder Rafael Carioca partners Kim Kallstrom in central midfield, while Romulo plays as one of the attacking three supporting Emenike.
The one surprise in that Barcelona starting XI has got to be the inclusion of Cristian Tello upfront alongside Lionel Messi and Pedro. Late in the transfer window Tello didn't even have a squad number for this season, but this evening he starts in the Champions League! This match is a huge opportunity for the youngster to prove his worth.
Spartak Moscow (4-2-3-1): Dykan; Kombarov, Insaurralde, Suchy, Kombarov; Rafael Carioca, Kallstrom; McGeady, Romulo, Ari; Emenike
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Tello
Without further ado, here are the two teams' starting XIs for tonight's match:
The Russian side come in to the match on the back of a 2-2 draw with Kuban at the weekend, although there were positive signs for the club as new signings Kim Kallstrom and Jose Manuel Jurado made their debuts following their moves to Moscow in the summer.
Spartak, meanwhile, are led by the former Valencia boss Unai Emery, which means they will know exactly what they are coming up against, despite the two clubs not having faced each other since 1994.
Barca are without their talismanic captain Carles Puyol tonight, after the veteran defender suffered a knee injury during their win over Getafe on Saturday while Andres Iniesta also misses out after damaging an adductor muscle in his right leg during Spain's 1-0 win over Georgia last week.
Tito Vilanova is making his managerial Champions League debut for the home side tonight, after taking the reins at the Catalan giants following Pep Guardiola's resignation at the tail-end of last season.
So, lets get down to business...
My name is Charlie Scott and I will be bringing you comprehensive updates from the match as it unfolds at Camp Nou.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the Champions League Group G fixture between Barcelona and Spartak Moscow.
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