| Football News | Thursday September 20 2012 10:28
Lionel Messi came to the rescue with a late double to earn Barcelona a 3-2 victory over Group G opponents Spartak Moscow on Wednesday as the Catalans stuttered in the opening match of their Champions League campaign.
Barca are aiming for their third Champions League trophy in five years but could have had their first home defeat in the competition in nearly three years when Romulo gave the visitors a 2-1 lead on the hour mark.
The hosts have made a blistering start in La Liga with four straight wins and went ahead early on through Cristian Tello, but an own-goal from Dani Alves after 29 minutes brought Spartak back into the contest.
Barca were enjoying the vast majority of the play but Romulo's goal left them staring at potentially their first loss at the Camp Nou since another Russian club, Rubin Kazan, won in 2009.
Messi, the competition's leading scorer for the past four seasons, put Barcelona's European ambitions back on track with two poacher's goals inside the last 20 minutes.
The Argentinian star knocked in a Tello pass from close range on 71 minutes and then headed home an Alexis Sanchez cross with 10 minutes to go.
"To start off with a win is very important and this was never going to be an easy game as we were against a Spartak side with good players including a lot of foreigners," said Barca coach Tito Vilanova.
"I can't say that I am pleased with the performance but as for the defence it is always possible that you can concede if you are so far up the pitch."
Photo: Lionel Messi (Getty Images)