Total footballer - Messi's magic means Barca can be optimistic as best-ever scoring streak continues

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The Argentine attacker took his tally to nine in the Champions League with another two goals in a masterclass at Celtic Park on Wednesday


Here, there and everywhere. Lionel Messi was an omnipresent figure throughout Barcelona's 2-0 win away to Celtic on Wednesday night and also netted both goals to continue his career-best scoring streak in the Champions League.

Messi sends Barca into last 16

The Argentine latched onto a wonderful chipped pass from Neymar to fire past Craig Gordon after 24 minutes at the goalkeeper's near post and added a penalty in the second half to end the end the hopes of Brendan Rodgers' hard-working side - much better here than in their 7-0 loss at Camp Nou in September.

The two strikes mean Messi now has nine in his four games in Europe this term: five in two meetings with Celtic and four in the games home and away to Manchester City.

That is already a greater return than in all but three of his campaigns in the continent's premier club competition. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner hit 12 goals in 13 games in 2010-11, grabbed 14 from 11 in 2011-12 and managed 10 in 13 in 2014-15. Never though, has he scored at such a prolfic rate as this in Europe.

The goals were also milestone moments. Messi's first was the 400th scored by Barca since the arrival of Luis Enrique in the summer of 2014, while the second was Leo's 100th for the Catalan club in international competitions.

Neymar equals Champions League assist record

As usual, however, the goals were merely the tip of the iceberg for the 29-year-old. Because Messi's influence was all over: he popped up in midfield, on the flanks, in attack and everywhere else with wonderful passing and link-up play on the Celtic Park pitch, which had not always seen his finest football in the past.

And all of that after he had spent a couple of minutes holding his ankle early on in the match, with fewer than 10 minutes on the clock. Thankfully for Barca and for the player himself, that worrying sign turned out to be nothing and another masterclass ensued.

Mourinho: Messi must end his career at Barca

Messi would have ended the night with an assist to his name as well, had Luis Suarez not somehow squandered a clear chance late in the game, curling the ball against the post when he really should have scored.

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Not that it mattered. Messi, who was returning from a stomach problem that had kept him out of Barcelona's goalless game against Malaga at Camp Nou on Saturday, showed Barca exactly what they had been missing with a virtuoso performance in this match.

This was total football from a total footballer. And the Catalans will hope this is just the start, with a tough trip to Real Sociedad ahead at the weekend - a fixture Barca never seem to win - and then the Clasico at home to Real Madrid the following weekend.

Because even though collective displays have been a mixed bag from Luis Enrique's side of late, Messi's magic means there are always reasons to be optimistic for this team.