Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen played a mostly uneventful first half that resulted in the Blaugranas taking a lead at the very end of the period, but the second half was considerably more exciting. Bayer put a serious scare into Barcelona and made things interesting for a bit, but they'll be headed to Camp Nou with what is more or less an impossible task. They drew level on one occasion, but Barcelona found a winner to head home up 3-1.
Alexis Sanchez scored the first two goals, and both needed brilliant assists. The first came in the first half, with Lionel Messi hitting a spectacular ball over the top of the defense to set him up for a finish between Bernd Leno's legs. The second goal, the eventual winner, was assisted by Cesc Fabregas with an absolutely wonderful through ball.
With Barcelona leading 1-0 as they came out of the locker room for the second half, the game felt like it was all but over before Bayer grabbed a stunning equalizer. Following a set piece, Vedran Corluka got to the byline and swung a great cross towards the back post. Michal Kadlec rose up above the defense and powered a great header into the back of the net, changing the game significantly.
The 1-1 scoreline didn't last long, however. The second Sanchez goal came just three minutes later, with the Bayer defense caught napping before Sanchez picked up the ball, rounded the keeper and placed it into the back of the net with ease.
Bayer would not find another goal, but they fought back valiantly. Just a minute after Barcelona took back the lead, Renato Augusto got into the box with a great run and forced a save out of Victor Valdes. In the 64th minute, Gonzalo Castro created a similar opportunity on the opposite flank and beat Valdes with a great left-footed shot, but hit the post.
Lionel Messi would eventually go on to score Barcelona's third goal, but his best bit of skill actually came on a narrow miss. In the 72nd minute, he made the Bayer defenders look silly as he easily beat three of them with an incredible dribbling move before hitting a chipped shot over Leno. He missed scoring a stunning goal by the narrowest of margins, hitting the post.
Knowing that they probably needed two goals to give themselves a chance at the Camp Nou, Robin Dutt brought off defensive midfielder Simon Rolfes for striker Stefan Kiessling. The German international forward almost rewarded his manager's faith in him with a goal just two minutes later, as he connected with a diving header, but Valdes was able to save comfortably.
Barcelona didn't exactly need a third goal to feel comfortable going home, but they were able to find it, and the tie is now all but over. In the 88th minute, Daniel Alves got into the box and had a shooting opportunity, but instead played a cross to the back post. Messi was there for the tap-in finish, securing the 3-1 victory for his team.
For more on the Blaugranas, check out FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.