By Niall Clarke
- Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona
- Messi scores twice to give The Gunners a mountainous task
- The return leg is at the Nou Camp in three weeks
LONDON, ENGLAND- Arsenal face a humongous task to qualify for the quarter finals of the Champions League after suffering a 2-0 home defeat to Barcelona.
A Lionel Messi double was enough to sink the Premier League club and give the defending champions a big lead heading into the second leg in the three weeks time.
The Gunners started the game brightly and looked the more dangerous side in the opening 30 minutes. Alex Oxlaide-Chaimberlain came close but his turn and shot as saved point blank by Marc Andre Ter Stegen.
Barcelona controlled possession but rarely threatened throughout most of the first half. It wasn’t until we approached half time that the ‘MSN’ effect started to take shape. Luis Suarez came close twice but could not find the back of the net.
The Spanish side carved out the first opportunity of the second half with Neymar forcing a save from Petr Cech one on one. The Brazilian could have perhaps squared the ball to Messi but elected to go alone.
Olivier Giroud forced an excellent save from Ter Stegen with an header on the hour mark but it was Barcelona who took the lead 10 minutes later. Who else but the ‘MSN’ combination would make it happen? A quick counter saw Suarez combine with Neymar who this time squared it to Messi who converted one of the easier goals of his career. It was also the first time he has managed to score a goal against Cech who had thwarted him on many occasions during his days at Chelsea.
Suarez came close a few minutes later when the Uruguayan struck the post. Aaron Ramsey also forced a save from Ter Stegen just minutes later, but it would be Barcelon who go on to double their lead.
Mathieu Flamini brought down Messi just minutes after being brought on substitute and the Argentine graciously converted the spot kick to give Arsenal a monstrous task of overturning a 2-0 deficit.
The Arsenal supporters left their seats at the Emirates as the match was now out of their grasp. Neymar forced another save from Cech before the end but the game petered out to a close and as expected it was Barcelona who came out victorious.
In the night’s other game, Juventus came from 2-0 down to earn a draw at home to Bayern Munich. The German side controlled proceedings and were rewarded for their dominance on the stroke of half time. Tomas Muller calmly put the ball away to earn an important away goal.
Arjen Robben doubled Bayern’s lead after the break with a curling left foot effort. Bayern perhaps got overconfident due to their dominance and that gave Juventus the chance to get back in the game. Paulo Dybala’s cool finish half the deficit and suddenly the Italian champions grew in confidence.
Stefano Sturaro’s goal levelled the match and gave Juventus a lifeline in this tie. They still face an uphill task with Bayern scoring two away goals, but it is certainly better than a 2-0 defeat.
The Champions League action continues with Dynamo Kiev vs Manchester City tomorrow evening at 19:45 GMT.
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