Lionel Messi turned on the style once again, with a magnificent performance as Barcelona outclassed Chelsea 3-0 (4-1 on aggregate) at the Nou Camp to progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night.
The first leg in London had ended in a 1-1 draw, with Barcelona somewhat fortuitous to come away from Stamford Bridge with a point, and luck favoured them in the second leg as well as they took advantage of some poor goalkeeping to take the lead in the 3rd minute itself.
Lionel Messi, playing for the first time since his wife gave birth to their third child, beat Thibaut Courtois from a tight angle with low finish that went between his legs to register his fastest-ever goal in a Barcelona jersey.
Chelsea were bright, but soon found themselves 2-0 down after Ousmane Dembele rifled a shot into the roof of the net and the ‘rout’ would be complete in the second-half when Messi scored via a nutmeg finish for the second time on the night.
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The Blues took the game to the hosts, hitting the post twice and perhaps on another day could have had two away goals, but it wasn’t to be and Barcelona became the last team to book their path into the quarters.
While the scoreline suggested a canter for La Blaugrana, it was anything but as Chelsea did dominate for large parts and The Statesman has rated the all players who graced the Nou Camp with their presence:
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen
Didn’t have much to do all night, was well-beaten by Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger’s attempts, both which hit the woodwork. Still a bit suspect on crosses, but decent all-round showing.
Was lucky not to get sent off, struggled to get to grips with Eden Hazard and Co. all night.
Made a couple of key blocks, some of which were heroic. Managed to stifle Olivier Giroud without much fuss. Could have conceded a penalty on another day for his challenge on Marcos Alonso in the first-half.
Like his partner, didn’t really put a foot wrong. Immense block to deny Hazard set the base for the second goal.
Couldn’t get forward as much as he would have liked to, due to the fact that Victor Moses kept running at him all night long.
He gets so much flak, it’s easy to forget he’s just 20. Was outstanding today, ran his lungs out on the wing and was rewarded for his efforts with his first-ever UEFA Champions League goal.
Struggled to cope with Chelsea’s pressing, but it’s not just his fault as the Blues took everyone by surprise with their tactics. Shielded his defence decently enough.
Was having a tough time in the middle of the pitch but was giving it his all before he got injured.
Apart from one moment of genius, was relatively subdued. More is expected from the Barcelona captain if he is to keep his place. Got substituted as he faded in the second-half.
Most writers/commentators/fans have run out of superlatives and after watching his display at the Nou Camp, it’s not hard to see why. Was a constant menace in Chelsea’s backline and with two goals and an assist, proved he can be devastate the best of defences with one mazy dribble.
His search for goals in European competition goes on, but the Uruguayan was actually pretty good against a team he has plenty of history with. Not his best game, but two assists isn’t a bad return in such a high-profile encounter.
Replaced the tiring Iniesta and did his job of shoring up the midfield adequately.
Another player who’s had a difficult first season in Catalonia, Gomes accomplished his task fairly well. Replaced Busquets on the hour-mark.
With the tie effectively out of Chelsea’s hands, came on to see the game out.
So much for making all that noise about not signing a new contract and wishing for Real Madrid to whisk him away. Let your feet (or hands, rather) do the talking. Made to look silly twice by Messi and was overall a mess.
A strange display from the usually-redoubtable Spaniard. Crosses were off, marking was too. Couple of times, he didn’t know where his man was!
The German was arguably Chelsea’s weakest link at the back, but hardly did anything wrong and slowly, but surely, is proving his critics wrong. Could have scored a consolation for the Blues right at the death on another day.
After his calamitous mistake in the first leg, the young Dane showed his mental strength with a solid performance.
How Antonio Conte must be wishing he had three of Kante. The Frenchman was everywhere and the sole reason why Messi didn’t do even more damage than he did.
Not the return the Spaniard had envisioned, surely. His passing lacked any urgency and he just couldn’t get going on the right.
For all his industry on the flank, Moses fails to make a dent in big games due to his lack of application in the final third.
Among Chelsea’s brightest outlets, was unlucky not to have scored with a free-kick in the first-half. Despite his obvious lack of pace, stretched Barcelona’s defence on a number of occasions.
Restored to his preferred position, the Belgian was always looking to make things happen as he took on several players at once. More is expected in the final third, however.
Like Hazard, took the game to the Catalans, but had little to show for it in the end.
Perhaps unfairly at times, penalised by the referee for his physical approach to the game, Giroud could not justify his inclusion ahead of Alvaro Morata and the jury’s remains out on him.
Replaced Giroud with less than 20 minutes left, but couldn’t do anything of note.
Came in place of Moses, but couldn’t get enough headway on the flank.
Replaced Fabregas in the final 10 minutes of the tie but hardly get a touch of the ball.