Arsenal were gunned down by a Lionel Messi brace as Barcelona take a 2-0 lead in to the second leg of Champions League round of 16 tie at Camp Nou. In a way, the scoreline was a bit flattering for the Catalans as Gunners gave their all and for the most part of it, they looked like the better team.
However, a moment of brilliance from the MSN trio and an act of foolishness from Mathieu Flamini ended up spoiling all the good work Arsenal had managed in first 70 minutes.
Arsenal 0 Barcelona 2 Post Match Analysis
Arsene Wenger came in to the game with a set game plan, which was working up and till Barcelona’s opening goal on 71st minute. Before that, Arsenal hurried Barca players and caused some misplaced passes. While all the pre-match focus was on Messi, Suarez and Neymar, it was the home side, who were playing the better football.
Petr Cech did not have to make a single save for the first 30 minutes, and Arsenal kept growing in the game. The very first big chance of the night fell to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, but the Englishman missed his shot wildly to allow Marc Andre Ter-Stegen to make the save.
Arsenal 0 Barcelona 2 – Match Stats
Gunners fans knew that they might not get a better chance that Chamberlin’s miss and it did turn out to be true. While Arsenal were still dreaming of the missed chance, Luis Suarez had a massive chance to give Barca a lead right on the stroke of half-time. However, the in-form striker missed his header only by few inches.
Second half saw Cech called in to action early on and make his first defining save of the game from a Suarez strike. In a major turning point, Chamberlin had to be taken off after he had collided with Jordi Alba in the first half, and could never recover.
While everything was happening, chances kept falling for both the teams. On the hour mark, Olivier Giroud came very close to heading his team in to the lead, but there was Ter-Stegen, who was determined to keep hold of his clean sheet.
Messi scored for first time vs Cech
Soon after Giroud’s missed chance, Per Mertesacker pulled off a match-saving block to deny Suarez to keep the game level at 0-0. Arsenal looked in control of thins, until their very first lapse in concentration, and it was brutally punished by MSN.
A lose ball on the half-line was retrieved and distributed by Neymar to Suarez, in return the former Liverpool man found Neymar, who played a perfectly weighted pass to Messi as the Argentine managed to score against Cech for the first time. It was Messi’s 28th goal of the season, and 88th in Champions League history.
From there on, it was a one-way route for Barcelona. Arsenal had lost the zeal to fight on and looked like a beaten side. Their misery was soon compounded when the substitute Mathieu Flamini brought down Messi with his very touch of the game.
Tie could be over for Arsenal
Messi got up, and scored his second of the night to hand Arsenal a ruthless footballing lesson. Tie is as good as over, but it could have got worse, had Nemymar scored from his header late on, Cech made the save and perhaps has kept his side alive in the tie.
In a nutshell, European Champions showed ruthless efficiency tonight, which could very well go a long way in them becoming the first team to win back-to-back European titles in the Champions League era. As for Arsenal, they have all to do in about 3 weeks’ time, and turn the 2-0 deficit at Camp Nou.
Image credit: getty