By ESPNSTAR.com staff
Barcelona came into the match needing all three points to seal a spot in the next round of the tournament after their shock defeat at the hands of Celtic a fortnight ago and the players delivered in style with a clinical first half display to record a 3-0 win over Spartak Moscow.
Messi played a starring role in the victory, setting up Dani Alves for the opening goal before grabbing a brace for himself to see off the Russian side, who are out of the running for even an Europa League spot in third place.
Vilanova praised his side for adapting well to tricky conditions in Moscow to secure a spot in the next round of the Champions League as winners of their group.
"We were well aware of the importance of this game having lost to Celtic last time out. We did not want to be looking to qualify in our last home game against Benfica," he said on UEFA's official website.
"My players demonstrated just how great they are tonight. They have won a lot of trophies down the years and proved that they can adapt to any circumstance, be it the cold weather or a tricky playing surface. They put in a very diligent performance.
"Each and every day, Lionel Messi doesn't fail to surprise with his ambition and his eagerness to win and help out his team-mates. We always talk about the goals he scores but we also have to say that at a tactical level he's excellent too.
The two goals helped Messi take a step closer to matching Gerd Muller's record of scoring 85 goals in a calender year by taking his own tally to 80 goals, but the player himself played down the achievement and insists that the team takes priority over breaking a record.
"We knew we had to start strong today, to avoid what happened against Celtic," he said.
"It wasn't easy on this pitch, but we did well. It was important not to concede tonight, for all of us.
"Muller's record? The team are more important, in the second half we preferred to keep control."