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Ghana coach Appiah drops Ayew brothers

2018 FIFA World Cup
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By ESPN Staff

Messi the hero after Barca's late escape

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and his players were not short of superlatives to describe Lionel Messi following the Argentinian's last-gasp heroics against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Messi almost single-handedly turned defeat into victory on Wednesday night, coming off the bench to score twice in injury time as Barca bounced back from a half-time deficit to clinch a 2-1 win in Ukraine.

Messi's first goal was a simple tap-in from close range following a mistake by Shakhtar goalkeeper Andrei Pyatov, but the diminutive playmaker's second effort was much more memorable, coolly dinking the ball over Pyatov after racing in from the left-hand side of the area.

Those goals helped Barca continue their 100% record in Group C and left Guardiola waxing lyrical about his young forward.

"There is no doubt that Leo is a special player, who does things differently and is very decisive," said Guardiola.

Barca strikers Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o also heaped praise on their fellow forward, with the Frenchman, who was replaced by Messi on the hour-mark, saying: "I'm very happy for Leo because he is the best player in the world."

Eto'o added: "We've won thanks to the strength of the team and the plays of Messi, who has shown his talent."

Guardiola was keen not to let Messi steal all the limelight though, insisting Barca are by no means a one-man team and even joking that he would be using the Argentinian only as a supersub in the future.

"We already know what Messi is capable of doing, but it's not only him. We also have (Andres) Iniesta, Bojan (Krkic) and Xavi," said the coach.

"From now on he will only play the last half-hour of matches. During pre-season we put in some great performances without him."

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