GLASGOW • Celtic coach Brendan Rodgers hailed Barcelona's Lionel Messi as probably the greatest player ever, after the Argentinian magician put the Scottish champions to the sword again with both goals in a 2-0 win on Wednesday.
Messi, returning after illness, proved the difference as Barca comfortably took their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Asked if his side would have won had Messi been playing for Celtic, a smiling Rodgers said: "We would have had a big chance, there's no doubt about that.
"He's arguably the best player that's ever played football, and when he plays in your team, he makes everyone else better. So if he's playing for Celtic tonight, no doubt he makes us all better."
Messi, again, was the star of the show.
He scored both goals, created chances for others, and capped a virtuoso performance with a mesmerising matador-like feint that bamboozled Celtic captain Scott Brown in the closing minutes.
Messi missed his side's goal-less draw against Malaga on Saturday, but was back to his best in Glasgow.
The brace took his Champions League total to 92 goals, including nine in this season's group stage. Barca progress to the last 16 as group winners.
Rodgers, though, had no regrets regarding his team's performance.
"I was proud of the team tonight. We looked like we played without any fear and we pressed the game well," the 43-year-old said.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said: "We were good at the back and we got better as the game went on."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE