Arsenal managed to contain Lionel Messi and Barcelona for just over 70 minutes, but Barcelona conjured 20 minutes of devastation to leave the Gunners’ UEFA Champions League hopes in tatters.
Messi scored both goals in Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Arsenal on Tuesday at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal defended with great discipline until Barcelona opened its defense with a counter attack late in the game. Luis Suarez, Neymar and Messi, Barcelona’s unmatchable attacking trio, combined to give Barcelona the breakthrough it was seeking.
Messi’s goal propelled Barcelona to a higher level, and Arsenal failed to react. Barcelona took greater control of proceedings from there and only had to wait another 12 minutes to extend its lead.
Mathieu Flamini clumsily fouled Messi inside Arsenal’s penalty area, and the Argentinian superstar converted the spot kick.
The reigning Champions League winner will have a commanding lead when it hosts Arsenal on March 16 at Camp Nou in the second leg of the teams’ Champions League Round of 16 series.
In Tuesday’s other Champions League game, host Juventus came back from a two-goal deficit to draw Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Round of 16 series.
Thomas Muller gave Bayern Munich the advantage in early in the first half. Arjen Robben extended its lead 10 minutes into the second period.
But Juventus’ red-hot striker Paulo Dybala halved his team’s deficit eight minutes after Robben scored.
Alvaro Morata then tied the score with a poacher’s special in the 75th minute.
Bayern Munich will host Juventus on March 16. The German club should take comfort in its two away goals, which give it a slight edge heading into the decisive game.
Thumbnail photo via Frank Augstein/The Associated Press