Madrid: Barcelona had five different scorers in thrashing Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1 in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, moving closer to a likely meeting against fierce rival Real Madrid in the next round.
Andres Iniesta starred for the Spanish champions, scoring early and then setting up Daniel Alves' goal before Gerard Pique, Seydou Keita and Xavi Hernandez completed the rout at Camp Nou Stadium.
It was the 10th time this season that Barcelona had scored at least five goals in a match. Barcelona has now hit 132 goals to their opponents' 30 in all competitions this campaign.
"The result is good, but we have to be prudent," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "At their ground against Arsenal and Roma, it was hellish."
But according to Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu, the three-time champions are already in the semifinals.
"With this result Barcelona is classified," Lucescu said. "I don't think there is a team can beat Barcelona this year. Teams will cause them problems, but they are the best team because they know how to provoke errors and take advantage of them."
Barcelona's emphatic victory improved the likelihood of four upcoming matches against Real Madrid after Jose Mourinho's team beat Tottenham 4-0 in Tuesday's quarterfinals.
The Spanish rivals, who are drawn to possibly meet in the semifinals, are also pitted against each other in the Copa del Rey final later this month, plus they clash in the league.
"These are challenges that football brings you and we like these; we like to play these kind of games if it means you keep winning titles and earning successes — especially against an historic rival," Xavi said. "You couldn't ask for more."
The hosts' opening goal in the second minute came against the run of play after the Ukrainian team missed a number of chances in what was a rematch of the 2009 European Supercup final won by Barcelona.
Iniesta picked up a pass from Messi intended for David Villa and eluded several defenders before rolling the ball past Pyatov from a tight angle. It was Iniesta's first European goal since his injury-time equalizer against Chelsea that took the eventual champions into the 2009 final.
"The goal came very early and calmed us down," said Iniesta, whose subsequent yellow card means he misses Tuesday's return leg.
Instead of immediately succumbing, however, Shakhtar responded with two clear-cut chances from its speedy Brazilian forwards.
Luiz Adriano shot wide after a counterattack with Valdes beaten in the 12th minute, and Willian lobbed just past the post from well outside the area with the Barcelona goalkeeper off his line following Daniel Alves' poor back pass.
Messi helped calm the defensive jitters with a free kick that just missed and a shot claimed by Pyatov as Barcelona started to take control.
Messi then drew three defenders before laying off for Dani Alves to waste a clear chance, while soon after Villa beat Pyatov with a low shot that rolled wide of the far post.
The only surprise was that out of five different scorers, Messi wasn't among them. Guardiola saluted all his players for the victory, but singled out the diminutive Argentina star.
"Leo didn't score but he did a lot today to help us win," Guardiola said.
Barcelona struck its second goal in the 34th minute when Iniesta found Daniel Alves on the run with a perfectly timed pass into the area, the Brazil right back controlling the ball to evade Pyatov before poking it into the empty net.
Pique, partnered by defensive midfielder Sergio at center back with Carles Puyol still sidelined, made up for any early nerves by connecting with Xavi's swinging corner in the 53rd, the ball deflecting into the net after a slight touch from Rakitskiy.
Rakitskiy made amends in the 60th, however, using his leg to change the trajectory of Dario Srna's free kick for the ball to bounce under Valdes and inside the far post.
But Keita replied immediately. The Mali midfielder running on to Messi's laid-off pass before calmly firing a rising shot into the roof of goal from just inside the area.
Moments after Luiz Adriano's shot had hit the post, Daniel Alves was free inside the area to slide a pass for Xavi to cap Barcelona's ninth straight home win in European competition, matching a club record reached in 1979 and 1994.
"I could not convince my players not to be afraid of Barcelona," Lucescu said. "The goals they scored were because we were afraid as well as the chances we missed. We could have scored three goals."