Much like they’ve done over the last six weeks without Lionel Messi, Barcelona relied on Neymar and Luis Suarez to carry them to a 3-0 victory over BATE Borisov in Wednesday’s Champions League Group E match at Camp Nou.
The victory, coupled with Roma’s 3-2 win over previously second-place Bayer Leverkusen, assured the Catalans first-place in the group and a 22nd-straight appearance in the Round of 16, with Neymar drilling a penalty in the 30th minute and securing a brace in the 83rd and assisting Suarez on his strike in the 60th.
Meanwhile, BATE’s run after qualifying for the tournament earlier this summer comes to a screeching halt as they were handed their third loss in Champions League play.
With Messi down since late September due to a serious knee injury, the South American duo of Neymar and Suarez have largely kept Barcelona’s attack humming. Suarez secured his eighth goal in the last nine matches across all competitions, and Neymar’s work as scorer and playmaker have afforded him eight goals and six assists in the last six matches.
After BATE defender Filip Mladenovic was shown a yellow for a poor foul on forward Munir El Haddadi, Neymar stepped for the penalty and employed a slight hesitation move poor taking the shot down the middle past keeper Sergey Chernik for the 1-0 lead.
With the Catalans defense limiting BATE to only two shots on goal, Neymar easily slithered down the left flank to find an unmarked Suarez, who glided into the penalty area with a few touches and slotted his goal to the bottom left corner.
Barcelona must still meet Roma on Nov. 24 and then Leverkusen on Dec. 9, but by then Messi will have likely returned and the Catalans will have started preparing for the knockout stages.