ROME – Lionel Messi and titleholder Liverpool were in top form in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Messi scored one goal and set up another as Barcelona beat Slavia Prague 2-1 to take control of Group F at the group stage’s midpoint.
Liverpool overwhelmed Genk 4-1 to end a four-game losing streak away from home in the group phase.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made the most of a rare start to score twice and Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah also got on the scoresheet for last season’s champion.
Still, Liverpool remained one point behind Napoli in Group E after the Italian club won 3-2 at Salzburg with a brace from Dries Mertens, who surpassed Diego Maradona for second spot on the team’s all-time scoring list.
Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund trail Barcelona by three points in a group where three heavyweights are vying for two spots in the knockout stage.
Inter beat Dortmund 2-0 in the other Group F game with goals from Lautaro Martinez and Antonio Candreva.
Messi floated a free kick to Luis Suarez at the far post and the Uruguayan’s shot was deflected in by Slavia forward Peter Olayinka for Barcelona’s winner.
Earlier, Messi finished off a fast move he had started.
It was the first goal for the Argentine in the campaign, taking his overall tally in Europe’s top club competition to 113 in his illustrious career.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5