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  HOME | Sports (Click here for more)

Barça Pulls Away Late to Top Lyon, Advance to Champions League Quarterfinals

BARCELONA – FC Barcelona recorded a 5-1 victory on aggregate over Lyon in Champions League round-of-16 action, with Lionel Messi converting a penalty opportunity in the first half and scoring a second goal and notching two assists late in the second half of Wednesday night’s second-leg contest.

After settling for a scoreless draw in last month’s first leg, Barcelona clinched a quarterfinal berth in Europe’s premier club competition with a 5-1 win in front of their home fans at Camp Nou.

The Catalans were locked in from the outset against the Ligue 1 side and got on the scoreboard in the 18th minute after Jason Denayer was called for a highly questionable foul on Luis Suarez in the area.

Messi stepped up to the 12-yard-mark and opted for a Panenka penalty conversion, lobbing the ball into the middle of the goal as Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes dove out of position to his left.

The situation became more dire for the French club in the 31st minute when Suarez received a pass just outside the area, split two defenders and then passed to an unmarked Philippe Coutinho for a goal into an empty net.

Lopes, who had made several outstanding saves in the Feb. 19 first leg at Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, France, then was forced to leave the field in the 34th minute after he was injured in a collision with Coutinho.

His replacement, Mathieu Gorgelin, got off to great start by denying Messi in a one-on-one opportunity late in the first half.

He then got some help from a teammate after the intermission when a chip shot by the Argentine superstar went over the keeper’s head before being cleared away on the goal line by defender Fernando Marçal.

Lyon finally started applying some pressure at the other end of the field in the ensuing minutes and were rewarded when Lucas Tousart took advantage of a poor clearance by Sergio Busquets and sent a right-footed shot inside the near post past a diving Marc-Andre ter Stegen in minute 58.

The goal was allowed to stand after a review by the video assistant referee (VAR).

The visitors briefly looked as if they might score the equalizer, with attacking midfielder Nabil Fekir putting a scare into the home fans with a shot just over the crossbar.

But Messi proved to be the difference yet again, receiving the ball in space on a counter-attack in the 78th minute, leaving a pair of defenders in knots with his uncanny dribbling and firing a shot that tipped off of Gorgelin’s hand and slowly rolled just inside the left upright to make the score 3-1.

He then turned the contest into a rout with a pair of assists on counter-attack plays.

The first came on a cross inside the box past several defenders that Pique turned into a close-range score in the 80th minute and the second on a pass to second-half substitute Ousmane Dembele, who managed to stay onside before curving a right-footed shot past Gorgelin six minutes later.

Barcelona, who are the lone La Liga club in the Champions League quarterfinals after Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were eliminated in the round of 16, will learn their next opponent when the draw is held on Friday in Nyon, Switzerland.

The semifinal draw also will take place that same day so the teams know their potential path to the final.

 

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