A second-half brace from Lionel Messi fired Barcelona to a 2-0 victory over Arsenal in a Champions League last-16 clash at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.
- Arsenal 0 Barcelona 2
- First half ends goalless
- Messi breaks the deadlock on 71 mins
- Suarez strikes the right-hand post
- Barca double lead through Messi penalty
A closely contested first half ended in stalemate, with neither side able to create very much in front of goal.
However, the match eventually sprang to life when Lionel Messi slotted home in the 71st minute following a quick counter-attack.
And the result was put beyond any doubt in the 83rd minute as Messi converted from the penalty spot following a foul in the box by substitute Mathieu Flamini.
The first half was a closely contested affair, with goal-scoring chances at a premium for both teams.
Arsenal started brightly, though, and had two early chances blocked by the Barca defence, Alexis Sánchez and Aaron Ramsey both going close to giving the Gunners an early lead.
At the opposite end of the pitch, Ivan Rakitic had Barcelona’s first chance of note, but he too saw his shot denied by the defence.
The hosts eventually lodged their first shot on target in the 22nd minute, Barca goalkeeper Marc Ter Stegen doing well to deny Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal-bound effort just moments after Héctor Bellerín had seen his shot from the centre of the box blocked.
With chances few and far between, the first half offered up just three more chances. Lionel Messi headed wide of the mark in the 31st minute, before seeing his 41st-minute attempt blocked by the last line of defence.
Luis Suarez had the last effort of the first half as he headed just wide from six yards out after being teed up by Dani Alves’ pinpoint cross.
The start of the second half offered up very little in the way of goalmouth action, with the two sides creating just one chance apiece in the opening 20 minutes.
Neymar saw his 49th-minute attempt saved by Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal, while at the opposite end of the pitch, Ter Stegen did well to smother Olivier Giroud’s goal-bound header following Nacho Monreal’s inswinging cross into the danger area.
However, the deadlock was eventually broken in the 71st minute following a quick counter-attack from Barca. Neymar picked up the ball on the halfway line and made a slaloming run down the left flank before slipping the ball into the path of Messi, who smashed home from the centre of the box to send the visiting fans into wild celebrations.
They could have been two goals to the good seven minutes later when the ball fell to an unmarked Suarez at the back post, but the former Liverpool striker failed to find the back of the net, hitting the right-hand post from close range.
Suarez’s miss was soon forgotten, though, as Barca won a penalty in the 83rd minute, which was calmly converted by Messi.
Barcelona almost added a third in the first minute of injury time, but Neymar saw his headed effort saved by Cech in the top-right corner as Barcelona comfortably saw out the remaining minutes to secure a two-goal advantage away from home.