Wednesday 28 June 2017

Messi brace leaves Arsenal’s European hopes hanging by a thread

Arsenal 0 Barcelona 2

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (centre) celebrates with teammate Neymar after scoring his sides first goal of the game
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (centre) celebrates with teammate Neymar after scoring his sides first goal of the game
Luis Suarez vies with Arsenal's Olivier Giroud during the Champions League match between Arsenal and Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium
Andres Iniesta takes a shot on goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16, first leg match between Arsenal FC and FC Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium
Barcelona's Luis Suarez looks dejected after a missed chance
Merchandise on sale outside the stadium before the game
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A Lionel Messi brace 20 minutes from time has put Barcelona firmly on course for the Champions League quarter-finals after a 2-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium tonight.

Having failed to score against Petr Cech in his previous eight games against the shot stopper, the Argentinean found the net twice in the final quarter to yet again give the Gunners a European mountain to climb.

In a contest that ebbed and flowed, Messi proved to be the most clinical forward on the night when he found the net in the 71st minute after being played through by Neymar to hand the Catalans victory.

Arsene Wenger’s side were not without their opportunities, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud spurning decent opportunities, while Luis Suarez was also wasteful in front of goals, hitting the post soon after Messi’s opening strike.

Substitute Mathieu Flamini upended the reigning Ballon d’Or inside the box with six minutes remaining and Messi dusted himself down to coolly send Cech the wrong way to double the advantage.

The visitors are now fully in the driving seat with the return leg taking place in three weeks’ time.

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