Lionel Messi reaffirmed his position at the very top of the world game with a typically stylish strike in Barcelona’s 2-0 home win over Dynamo Kiev.
Messi scored in the 26th minute when he received Andres Iniesta’s pass and cut in from the right before delivering a powerful low shot that goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy couldn’t keep out.
Substitute Pedro doubled Barcelona’s lead in the 76th with a low left-footed shot from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s pass.
Playing their first home game in this season’s competition, Barcelona’s winning margin could have been larger but for Shovkovskiy’s series of saves.
“It’s an important win. It’s always important to win your home matches in the Champions League,” Pedro told Spanish state TV.
“It’s better to be the leader as quickly as possible because we are in a tough group,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. “This Tuesday’s win is really important. We’ve taken a small step towards qualification for the second round.”
Kiev coach Valeri Gazzaev said Barcelona “was at another level.”
“We did what we could. We started playing on the counterattack and there were times when we had a chance but that disappeared when we lost the ball,” Gazzaev said.
Kiev included Andriy Shevchenko on his 33rd birthday despite a doubt over an eye injury. The striker scored a hat trick at Camp Nou in Kiev’s 4-0 win in the competition 12 years ago.
The Ukrainians made a lively start with Gerson Magrao sending an angled shot narrowly wide after three minutes.
However, the visitors were fortunate in the 15th minute when a penalty was not awarded despite Iniesta’s shirt appearing to be tugged by Yevgen Khacheridi.
Messi’s goal led Barcelona to control the game until the interval, with Messi and Ibrahimovic a constant threat to Dynamo’s defense but repeatedly thwarted by Shovkovskiy.
Ognjen Vukojevic had a goal disallowed in the 40th, with Artem Milevskiy ruled narrowly offside, to remind Barcelona that Kiev were still in contention.
After Andres Iniesta was replaced by Pedro at half-time, Barcelona continued to dominate but initially found goal chances harder to create.
However, Barcelona came close in the 64th when Khacheridi headed just wide of his own goal, and three minutes later Shovkovskiy produced an impressive diving save to deny Ibrahimovic.
Dynamo almost reduced the deficit in the 88th when Milevskiy sent the ball over the advancing goalkeeper Victor Valdes — and narrowly over the Barcelona goal.
The holders top Group F with four points from two games after Champions League debutants Rubin Kazan were unlucky to only draw 1-1 with 10-man Inter in Russia.
Argentine forward Alejandro Dominguez put the hosts ahead when he surged past Lucio to fire home and although Dejan Stankovic pegged them back, Mario Balotelli’s second-half dismissal left the stuttering Italian champions clinging on.
“Given the circumstances of the game, It is a point gained. Our opponents started better, they pressed and had their fans urging them on as it was their home debut,” coach Jose Mourinho said after Inter’s seventh Champions League game without a win.
Arsenal had to wait until the last 12 minutes to seal a 2-0 home win over Olympiakos in Group H with forwards Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin on the scoresheet while AZ Alkmaar drew 1-1 with Standard Liege in a Benelux battle.
Standard substitute Moussa Traore scrambled in the equalizer in stoppage time to leave both sides on one point.
Group E leaders Olympique Lyon plundered a 4-0 victory at Hungary’s Debrecen after Kim Kallstrom had slammed in from the edge of the area on three minutes to start the rout.
Bosnian Miralem Pjanic, who had set up Kallstrom, then curled in a delightful free kick and later crossed for Sidney Govou to make it 3-0 with a header.
Bafetimbi Gomis scored the fourth with a superb lob six minutes after the break.
Sevilla were also in goals, notching up a 4-1 win at Rangers in Group G after Abdoulay Konko’s finish early in the second half had set them on their way to six points from two games.
Adriano, Luis Fabiano and Frederic Kanoute boosted the Spanish side’s goal difference with Nacho Novo’s late strike offering little consolation to the Scottish champions.
Romania’s Unirea Urziceni, making their home debut in the competition like Rubin, Debrecen and Alkmaar, had a Dacian Varga equalizer to thank from their 1-1 draw with VfB Stuttgart in the same group.
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