Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova was thrilled his side could graft out a win in Russia against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday.
The Spanish giants sealed top spot in Champions League Group G with the 3-0 win that included another brace for Lionel Messi and the Argentine’s 80th goal in 2012.
Vilanova credited his star man as well his team’s overall performance on an artificial pitch in freezing conditions.
“We respected Spartak. It is never easy to win here because of the time change, the low temperatures and the artificial grass,” Vilanova said.
“We managed to beat them at the Nou Camp (in September), I watched the game twice and they played quite will on our pitch.
“They had fast people up front so winning here in Moscow was even more of a credit to our players, because they came here to control the ball, and to attack despite knowing a draw was enough.
“The result was more down to our players than mistakes by Spartak players, they played well.”
On Messi, Vilanova said it was the Argentine’s team-first approach that has ensured his constant record-breaking feats.
“Lionel Messi doesn’t play to beat records. He just plays football to help the team,” Vilanova said.
“The fact he has scored 80 goals so far in 2012 is not an easy thing to do, it is an incredible achievement from a young player.
“He achieved this record because of his ambition to win every game.”
Spartak coach Unai Emery praised his players’ performance despite the defeat, which eliminated the Russian side from the competition.
“We played well especially in the first half and after we went 3-0 down in the second half,” Emery said.
“But in the first half the game was more or less as we had established, we had several chances to score but we haven’t been successful.
“Barcelona also managed to create a lot of chances and they were more effective.
“I am not unhappy with the team, the team has struggled and the team has had options but has been overrun by a great team like the Barcelona.
“For us it was a good performance and we can build from it.”