The first leg of Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was highly competitive, but Lionel Messi was intent on making sure the second leg went a bit smoother. He scored in the 3rd minute on Wednesday and put in a masterful performance throughout the Blaugrana’s 3-0 victory, sending Barca through 4-1 on aggregate.
Messi’s opening goal probably should have been stopped by Thibaut Courtois, though very few players in the would could place a precision finish between a goalkeeper’s legs from an extremely acute angle. The goal was set up by a pass by Ousmane Dembele that deflected off a defender and fell to Luis Suarez, who played a perfect first-time pass into Messi’s path.
Messi got the party started for Barcelona with his 99th goal in the Champions League!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 14, 2018
Will he get No. 100 in the second half? pic.twitter.com/gvXdMNOyZM
On Barcelona’s second goal, Messi turned provider. Following a block by Samuel Umtiti on a shot by Eden Hazard, the hosts quickly went end-to-end, with Messi surging past a pair of Chelsea defenders before squaring the ball to Dembele. The Frenchman cranked a powerful finish into the top corner to put his team up 2-0 after 20 minutes.
Ousmane Dembélé has his first goal for Barcelona!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 14, 2018
What a counterattack for Barcelona, created by none other than Lionel Messi. pic.twitter.com/8dcCLSiq9I
Chelsea had a couple of opportunities to get back into the tie on either side of halftime. Marcos Alonso was unlucky to hit the post from a free kick in the 45th minute, then even unluckier to be denied a penalty when he was shoved down in the box just after the break. Olivier Giroud was so angered by the non-call that he sprinted to the referee in protest, and he was promptly shown a yellow card.
Sergio Busquets exited in the 61st minute with an injury, briefly giving Chelsea some hope of taking over the game. That hope lasted two minutes — Messi scored his second after picking up the ball from Suarez on the edge of the penalty area, then sprinting past three white shirts and scoring his 100th goal in Champions League.
What a night for Messi!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 14, 2018
He nutmegs Courtois AGAIN to score his second of the night and make it 3-0 for Barcelona. pic.twitter.com/jZ7obKb8NO
Barcelona: ter Stegen; Alba, Umtiti, Pique, Roberto, Busquets (Gomes 61’), Rakitic, Iniesta (Paulinho 56’), Messi, Suarez, Dembele (Vidal 67’)
Goals: Messi (3’, 63’), Dembele (20’)
Chelsea: Courtois; Christensen, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Kante, Fabregas, Moses (Zappacosta 67’), Willian, Giroud (Morata 67’), Hazard (Pedro 82’)