Football - Soccer-Messi carried off with knee injury

BARCELONA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was carried off on a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious knee injury near the end of Barcelona's Champions League Group G match at home to Benfica on Wednesday.


The Argentine World Player of the Year collapsed to the ground clutching his left knee after colliding with Benfica goalkeeper Artur and looked to be in severe discomfort as he was taken from the pitch.

Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said in a television interview immediately after the match it was too early to assess the nature of the injury.

The game ended 0-0 with Barca already through to the last 16 as group winners and Benfica forced to settle for a place in the Europa League.

Messi remains one goal short of Gerd Mueller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year set in 1972. (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ed Osmond)

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