Messi sets up 2-0 Barcelona win over Benfica
European Football Headlines
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
LISBON, Portugal (AP) Lionel Messi set up goals in each half for Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas as Barcelona beat Benfica 2-0 on Tuesday to make it two wins from two in the Champions League group stage.
Messi hit a low cross from the left in the sixth minute that Sanchez poked in from close range. The Argentine dribbled into the penalty area before laying off the ball for Fabregas to fire a left-foot shot into the net in the 56th.
Barcelona's victory came after a 3-2 triumph over Spartak Moscow and puts the four-time champion top of Group G with six points, two ahead of second-place Celtic.
Messi produced late winners as Barcelona came from behind to defeat the Russian team but he has now gone three games without scoring, though he came close in the final stages at Benfica.
Barcelona defender Carles Puyol, returning from a more than two-week layoff due to a ligament injury, fell awkwardly in the 75th minute and went off on a stretcher with what looked like a gruesome injury. The club later said on its website he had dislocated his left elbow.
Barcelona was reduced to 10 men a few minutes before the end when Sergio Busquets was sent off for lashing out at Maxi Pereira.
The win in Portugal gave Barcelona a lift five days ahead of its game against Real Madrid in the Spanish league, in which it has six wins from six.
Barcelona mostly outclassed Benfica, keeping the ball for 75 percent of the match, but the team had goalkeeper Victor Valdes to thank for not conceding. He blocked shots from Bruno Cesar and Lima in the first half and Eduardo Salvio later on.
"Barcelona has a level of quality ... that a team like Benfica doesn't have," Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said. "They were very efficient at taking their chances. That's what made the difference."
Updated October 2, 2012