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Dynamo Kiev 1-2 Barcelona: Late Messi Free-Kick Ensures Blaugrana Top Group F

Dynamo 1-2 Barcelona
Champions League Results/Standings

Barcelona came from behind in Ukraine this evening to see off a plucky Dynamo Kiev side 2-1 to ease into the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Artem Milevsky opened the scoring after just two minutes, but the Spanish side always looked in control and goals from Xavi and Lionel Messi were enough to see the 2008-09 champions top Group F ahead of Inter.

If results went against the Blaugrana this evening there was still a possibility that they could face a group stage exit. A two-goal defeat to the Ukranians coupled with an Inter or Rubin win at the Giuseppe Meazza would send Pep Guardiola's side spiralling out of the competition.

And they suffered the worst possible start to the match thanks to a stunning opener from Artem Milevsky. Andriy Shevchenko curled in a teasing free-kick in between defence and goalkeeper, and Milevsky connected to deflect the ball into the net.

Barcelona 'keeper Victor Valdes did not cover himself in glory, however, as the ball somehow squirmed through his grasp, but the home side didn't care - they had grabbed a crucial lead and Guardiola held a pensive expression on the touchline.

Despite that early set-back, however, the rest of the half belonged to the European Champions, who dominated possession, but just lacked a killer instinct to draw level.

Both Daniel Alves and Lionel Messi drew good saves from Oleksandr Shovskovski as the visitors enjoyed an incredible 75 per cent of the ball in the first half and it was no surprise when the equaliser arrived on 33 minutes.

Eric Abidal was the most advanced attacker on the pitch, reaching the byline and picking out team-mate Xavi with a perfect cutback. The Spanish international playmaker coolly slotted the ball into the net, and we were all square.

News filtered through that former Camp Nou favourite Samuel Eto'o had given Inter the lead in Italy, meaning at this point it was the two big guns heading for qualification, and it would take an almighty second-half display from Dynamo Kiev in order to reach the knock-out stages.

But despite Barcelona's dominance, Kiev squandered a golden chance to edge back in front just after the interval.

Another vicious Shevchenko delivery found the head of Leandro, but he could only direct his header wide of Valdes' post and a glorious opportunity had been squandered.

After their scare, the Blaugrana regained control of the match and were quite content to keep possession for long periods, frustrating the Ukrainians who were the side who needed the ball.

Just when they seemed content to see out the match and claim the point the required to top the section, in typical Barcelona style, they sealed the victory in the closing moments, and a deserved one at that.

Recently-crowned Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi had one of his quieter evenings, even by his standards, but he made sure his impact was the lasting memory of the match, four minutes from time.

Winning a free-kick himself, he dusted himself off and whipped the ball supremely over the Kiev wall and crashing in off Shovskovski's crossbar and into the back of the net.

Kiev's mission impossible had been outdone by the superior side on the night, and the champions secure their passage to the Super 16 stage in their bid to defend their title.

Paul Macdonald, Goal.com