Champions League

Enrique thrilled to win 'difficult' group

Lionel Messi (Getty)
Lionel Messi (Getty)

Cape Town - Luis Enrique praised his players after the 2-0 victory over Celtic meant that they topped their "difficult" Champions League group.

The result sees Barcelona finish above Manchester City, who qualified in second place, as well as Borussia Moenchengladbach and Celtic with one game to spare.

And Enrique was happy with how his side performed on the night at Celtic Park and even more pleased with the way they negotiated Group C.

"It was quite a hard game," Luis Enrique said. "We expected Celtic to press high. We were good at the break and improved as the game went on.

"It was a very difficult group and it was great to finish first with a game to spare. In one of the toughest groups, we have come top. I have to congratulate the team.

"In the first half I can't remember Celtic having a clear chance and (Lionel) Messi as usual was at a really high level."

Neymar was replaced late on against the Scottish champions after picking up a booking, however, Enrique insisted the substitution wasn't to avoid the Brazilian, who had an entertaining battle with Mikael Lustig in the second half, from being sent off.

"It was just the last five to 10 minutes there was an issue with regards to the crowd shouting," he added. "But the crowd were great, this is a great place to play. It was just handbags with a Celtic player. 

"We changed him to give him a rest, but it was nothing tactical (to avoid a red card).

"Gerard Pique received a knock to the foot, so it was to give him a rest. Marlon has just come from Brazil, so it's good to give him some game-time."

Barca will now be looking to focus on La Liga and closing the four point gap to leaders, Real Madrid when they take on Real Sociedad on Sunday.

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