Luis Enrique hails Messi after Ajax brace

Luis Enrique declared Lionel Messi the best player he has seen after the Barcelona forward equalled the UEFA Champions League goals record.

Messi's brace against Group F rivals Ajax on Wednesday helped ensure Barca's progression to the knockout stages as he made it to 71 goals in the competition - level with Raul.

The triumph came at a crucial time, following back-to-back La Liga losses against Real Madrid and Celta Vigo, and Messi scored in either half to get Barca back on track at the Amsterdam Arena. 

Coach Luis Enrique was full of praise for the Argentina international, who can now break the record against APOEL later this month.

"Messi is without doubt the best player I've seen as a player and a coach," he said.

"I'm happy for the side in general. There were parts of the game we could improve, but in general we had a marvellous attitude, and I'm happy. 

"We have to improve and for this I have a spectacular side. We started the season knowing there would be all sorts of moments. I liked everything in general."

Luis Suarez made his Champions League debut for Barca against his former employers in the Dutch capital and almost opened his account with a second-half one-on-one.

The Uruguayan, having recently made his return from a four-month ban for biting, paid tribute to Messi while Xavi also added his satisfaction at making it into the last 16.

"It's an honour to line up next to Messi - from my point of view Messi is the best player in the world and you cannot compare him to anyone," Suarez added.

"In fact, I enjoy playing with all these great players. I have been training with the team for a while now, even if I wasn't playing."

Xavi added: "I'm happy for Messi because he makes the difference for the team and for that he is the number one, the best.

"We've got an important three points for our confidence and we looked better. We need to keep on winning. We needed to win and I think the result was fair. 

"Ajax are a difficult side to play against, they want the ball and it wasn't easy.

"It is a great win and it reaffirms the group's confidence. Here we all work, we are all together and today it was shown that when we pull together the side functions."