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Magical Messi casts spell over Arsenal in Barça win

Published: Tuesday 23 February 2016, 22.45CET
Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona
Lionel Messi ended the Gunners' rearguard action with 19 minutes remaining before adding a spot kick to leave Barça firmly in the box seat.

Match statistics

ArsenalBarcelona

Goals scored0
2
Possession (%)35
 
65
Total attempts7
 
16
on target2
 
5
off target1
 
4
blocked4
 
7
against woodwork0
1
Corners1
 
7
Offsides3
 
1
Yellow cards1
 
1
Red Cards0
 
0
Fouls committed13
 
14
Fouls suffered14
 
13
Passes361
 
731
completed291
 
648

Standings

 
Published: Tuesday 23 February 2016, 22.45CET

Magical Messi casts spell over Arsenal in Barça win

Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona
Lionel Messi ended the Gunners' rearguard action with 19 minutes remaining before adding a spot kick to leave Barça firmly in the box seat.

  • Barcelona on brink of last 16 after ending Arsenal's resistance
  • Lionel Messi scores first goals against Petr Čech in seventh meeting
  • Barcelona have to wait until 49th minute for first shot on target
  • Arsenal have exited at this stage in each of last five seasons
  • Second leg takes place at Camp Nou on 16 March

Lionel Messi finally broke his Petr Čech hex as Arsenal's impressive rearguard action ultimately came to naught against Barcelona in this round of 16 first leg.

Messi had not scored in six previous encounters with Čech but as the Gunners' defensive steel began to creak he took his chance with 19 minutes left, completing a sweeping move. Another Messi goal from the penalty spot after he had been brought down leaves Arsenal staring at yet another UEFA Champions League exit in the last 16.

©AFP/Getty Images

Ter Stegen denies Oxlade-Chamberlain

The first 45 minutes were a lesson in defensive discipline, with the compact hosts steadfastly refusing to be dragged out of shape by Barcelona's fluid attacking. A rhythm soon established, with Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Ivan Rakitić patiently taking turns to test Arsenal's resolve before the occasional burst of a home counter.

In fact, on the break, it was Arsène Wenger's team who carried the greater threat. Had Mesut Özil's cross been better, Aaron Ramsey could easily have made it 1-0. Then the unbalanced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain squandered the best opportunity of all, scuffing tamely at Marc-André ter Stegen with the goal at his mercy. Regrets, they had a few.

©Getty Images

Messi takes the plaudits

Arsenal looked set to pay when they were run ragged either side of the interval, Luis Suárez twice going close and Čech denying Neymar. They regained their composure, but from then on the match was stretched, with space opening up at both ends. Messi capitalised, rounding off a move that had begun in his own area before driving in from the spot.

Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Much has rightly been made of Barcelona's gilt-edged front three, yet this was a triumph of the original among them. Arsenal must be sick of the sight of him. With the game opening up the Argentinian took it by the scruff of the neck, showing his trademark cool when it came to the crunch. Perhaps Messi's greatest feat is that he always appears to have so much more time than mere mortals.

Čech: Arsenal needed to be more clinical

Arsenal fail to take their chance
If Luis Enrique was shouting 'abracadabra' to his magical front three in the first half, the noise of the crowd was drowning him out. They had plenty to shout about, too, with their players seemingly equal to the challenge of facing Messi, Suárez and Neymar. How different might things have been had Oxlade-Chamberlain taken that first-half chance?

Barcelona show no signs of slowing
Sections of the Spanish media have questioned Luis Enrique's reluctance to rotate his squad in recent weeks, and some suspect the full-blooded pursuit of the 'sextet' (UEFA Champions League, Liga, Copa del Rey, Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup) may yet take its toll. There is nothing like having 65% possession to help preserve energy levels, though, and Barcelona grew in strength towards the end.

©AFP/Getty Images

©Getty Images

©AFP/Getty Images

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©AFP/Getty Images

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Last updated: 07/03/16 12.50CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2016/matches/round=2000635/match=2015766/postmatch/report/index.html#messi+casts+spell+over+arsenal

Lineups

arsenal

Arsenal

barcelona

Barcelona

33
ČechPetr Čech (GK)
1
ter StegenMarc-André ter Stegen (GK)
4
MertesackerPer Mertesacker (C)
3
PiquéGerard Piqué
Yellow Card85
6
KoscielnyLaurent Koscielny
4
RakitićIvan Rakitić
11
ÖzilMesut Özil
5
BusquetsSergio Busquets
12
GiroudOlivier Giroud
Substitution72
6
Dani AlvesDani Alves
15
Oxlade-ChamberlainAlex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Substitution50
8
IniestaAndrés Iniesta (C)
16
RamseyAaron Ramsey
9
SuárezLuis Suárez
17
Alexis SánchezAlexis Sánchez
10
MessiLionel Messi
Goal71
Goal83
18
MonrealNacho Monreal
Yellow Card6
11
NeymarNeymar
24
BellerínHéctor Bellerín
14
MascheranoJavier Mascherano
34
CoquelinFrancis Coquelin
Substitution82
18
Jordi AlbaJordi Alba

Substitutes

13
OspinaDavid Ospina (GK)
13
BravoClaudio Bravo (GK)
3
GibbsKieran Gibbs
17
El HaddadiMunir El Haddadi
14
WalcottTheo Walcott
Substitution50
20
Sergi RobertoSergi Roberto
20
FlaminiMathieu Flamini
Substitution82
21
AdrianoAdriano
21
ChambersCalum Chambers
22
Aleix VidalAleix Vidal
23
WelbeckDanny Welbeck
Substitution72
23
VermaelenThomas Vermaelen
28
CampbellJoel Campbell
24
MathieuJérémy Mathieu

Coach

Arsène Wenger (FRA) Luis Enrique (ESP)

Referee

Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)

Assistant referees

Bahattin Duran (TUR), Tarik Ongun (TUR)

Fourth official

Çem Satman (TUR)

Additional assistant referees

Hüseyin Göçek (TUR), Barış Şimşek (TUR)

Legend:

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