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Sánchez and Messi put Barcelona in control

Published: Tuesday 14 February 2012, 22.51CET
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1-3 FC Barcelona
Alexis Sánchez's double and a seventh European goal of the season for Lionel Messi means the holders are firmly on course for the quarter-finals.
by Ian Holyman
from BayArena

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Match statistics

LeverkusenBarcelona

Goals scored1
 
3
Attempts on target4
 
7
Attempts off target3
 
5
Corners0
7
Offsides2
 
6
Fouls committed15
 
9
Yellow cards3
 
1
Red cards0
 
0
Possession (%)28
 
72

Standings

 
Published: Tuesday 14 February 2012, 22.51CET

Sánchez and Messi put Barcelona in control

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1-3 FC Barcelona
Alexis Sánchez's double and a seventh European goal of the season for Lionel Messi means the holders are firmly on course for the quarter-finals.

Alexis Sánchez scored twice as holders FC Barcelona took a giant step towards a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals with victory at Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

Though they spent much of the opening period trying in vain to prise open their obdurate hosts, Josep Guardiola's men went in at half-time ahead courtesy of Alexis Sánchez's 41st-minute strike, his maiden goal in UEFA club competition. The Chilean international doubled his team's tally ten minutes after the restart, nipping in the bud a Leverkusen rally sparked by Michal Kadlec's 52nd-minute header. Lionel Messi's seventh of the competition late on left Barcelona in control going into the second leg on 7 March.

Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt had estimated his team would enjoy one-third of possession but, when the visitors kept the ball for over a minute from kick-off, that figure looked ambitious. Dutt's plans for his conservative lineup to stifle Barcelona's formidable attacking talents did initially prove astute, however.

Gonzalo Castro's over-enthusiastic pursuit of Messi gave Barça a promising free-kick that Daniel Alves wasted, and the only time the hosts were cut apart was when Manuel Friedrich inadvertently played in Sánchez − Daniel Schwaab's magnificent lunge to intercept the Chilean's cross denied Messi what surely would have been the opening goal.

The Leverkusen fans had unfurled a banner depicting their team as Vikings in a longboat just before kick-off, and the players certainly seemed intent on matching the Scandinavians' legendary combativeness as they tirelessly harried their opponents. However, whenever their passing fails to break down opponents, Barça remain patient, and they bided their time before Leverkusen's rigid discipline finally cracked.

The hosts were caught upfield when Stefan Reinartz's mis-kick presented Messi with the opportunity to loft a pass into space for Sánchez and Cesc Fàbregas to burst on to. The latter left it to the former to calmly slot a shot between Bernd Leno's legs.

Clearly deflated at the interval, there was renewed belief about Leverkusen when they re-emerged, and their greater ambition was quickly rewarded when Kadlec rose above Alves to head Vedran Ćorluka's cross beyond Victor Valdés. Parity, though, was fleeting as Barça responded in trademark fashion. Fàbregas's sublime through ball was simply too good for the Leverkusen back four, and Sánchez effortlessly rounded Leno before finishing from a tight angle.

Leverkusen responded once more and after Valdés had halted a Renato Augusto drive, the goalkeeper was beaten by Gonzalo Castro's low shot only for the ricochet off the far post to go Barcelona's way. Messi, too, tested the woodwork after darting between two defenders and chipping Leno, and both sides had further chances to add to the scoreline, with substitute Stefan Kiessling heading straight at Valdés before Leno's sharp reflexes denied Sánchez a hat-trick.

As Leverkusen wearied, Barça enjoyed greater freedom, and Alves broke forward before finding Messi, who lunged to touch in and make himself the competition's outright leading scorer.

Last updated: 27/11/12 5.25CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000264/match=2007671/postmatch/report/index.html#holders+barcelona+control

Lineups

leverkusen

Leverkusen

barcelona

Barcelona

23
LenoBernd Leno (GK)
1
Víctor ValdésVíctor Valdés (GK)
2
SchwaabDaniel Schwaab
Yellow Card7
2
Daniel AlvesDaniel Alves
3
ReinartzStefan Reinartz
4
FàbregasCesc Fàbregas
5
M. FriedrichManuel Friedrich
5
PuyolCarles Puyol (C)
6
RolfesSimon Rolfes (C)
Substitution77
8
IniestaAndrés Iniesta
Substitution61
8
BenderLars Bender
9
Alexis SánchezAlexis Sánchez
Goal41
Goal55
Substitution86
9
SchürrleAndré Schürrle
Substitution90
10
MessiLionel Messi
Goal88
10
Renato AugustoRenato Augusto
14
MascheranoJavier Mascherano
14
ČorlukaVedran Ćorluka
Yellow Card54
Substitution90+1
16
BusquetsSergio Busquets
24
KadlecMichal Kadlec
Goal52
21
AdrianoAdriano
Substitution70
27
CastroGonzalo Castro
Yellow Card80
22
AbidalÉric Abidal

Substitutes

22
YelldellDavid Yelldell (GK)
13
PintoJosé Manuel Pinto (GK)
4
OczipkaBastian Oczipka
11
Thiago AlcántaraThiago Alcántara
Substitution61
Yellow Card87
11
KiesslingStefan Kiessling
Substitution77
17
Pedro RodríguezPedro Rodríguez
Substitution70
17
OrtegaMichael Ortega
28
J. Dos SantosJonathan dos Santos
20
Da CostaDanny da Costa
Substitution90+1
30
Sergi RobertoSergi Roberto
21
Ömer ToprakÖmer Toprak
32
BartraMarc Bartra
38
BellarabiKarim Bellarabi
Substitution90
39
Isaac CuencaIsaac Cuenca
Substitution86

Coach

Robin Dutt (GER) Josep Guardiola (ESP)

Referee

Craig Thomson (SCO)

Assistant referees

Alasdair Ross (SCO), Derek Rose (SCO)

Fourth official

Steven McLean (SCO)

Additional assistant referees

William Collum (SCO), Euan Norris (SCO)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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