Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | ePaper

Messi helps Barcelona beat Lyon 5-1 to reach CL quarters

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AP, Barcelona :
Just when the Camp Nou crowd was getting nervous, Lionel Messi turned a close game into a complete rout.
Messi scored two goals before setting up two more for teammates as Barcelona beat Lyon 5-1 on Wednesday to reach the Champions League (CL) quarterfinals for a 12th straight season.
After a 0-0 draw in the first leg, Luis Suarez helped Barcelona go 2-0 up by halftime by earning a penalty converted by Messi and then setting up Philippe Coutinho to score.
Lucas Tousart gave the visitors hope with a goal in the 58th minute after Barcelona failed to clear a corner kick. That meant Lyon only needed one more goal to go through, but Messi scored again in the 78th before passing for Gerard Pique and substitute Ousmane Dembele to round off the big win.
"We suffered unnecessarily for a while after they made it 2-1," said Messi, who matched Xavi Hernandez's club record of 476 career victories. "We complicated things by letting our guard down on a set piece. After the 3-1 we could calm down."
Messi's goals were his seventh and eighth in the Champions League this season and took his tally to 36 in all competitions for Barcelona.
With the win, Barcelona set a Champions League record of 30 consecutive home matches without a loss that dates back to September 2013.
Barcelona also stayed on course for a possible treble of titles. It leads the Spanish league and has reached the final of the Copa del Rey.
In Wednesday's other game, Sadio Mane scored twice as Liverpool advanced with a 3-1 win at Bayern Munich.
The quarterfinal draw is on Friday.
Barcelona was on the front foot from the start and Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes did well to swat away Messi's first shot on goal shortly after kickoff.
But he could only watch hopelessly while prone on the turf when Messi floated his penalty kick past, using the "Panenka" style scoop after the goalie has moved too early.
Messi's 17th-minute spot kick was thanks to Suarez, who deftly sought and found contact with sliding defender Jason Denayer in the area to draw a foul.
Suarez continued to torment Lyon*s backline with his runs into the box. A quick switch of the ball from his left boot to his right was enough for Suarez to juke past Fernando Marcal and draw in Lopes before he passed for Coutinho to tap home on the half-hour mark.
Lopes had already been shaken up in a collision with Coutinho that forced play to be stopped for around five minutes before he tried to go on playing. But Lopes finally asked to be substituted in the 34th.
Backup Mathieu Gorgelin denied Messi from close range before halftime, and Marcal hustled back to clear Messi's chipped shot before it crossed the line just after the restart.
Lyon grabbed a lifeline when a corner kick was knocked on by three players- including two from Barcelona- before Tousart controlled the ball with his chest and fired past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Nabil Fekir then fired high as Lyon's pressure worried Barcelona for the first time.
Seeing his team's control of the match in danger, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde sent on Dembele and Arturo Vidal to try and equal Lyon in speed and muscle.
The move worked.
Messi made the most of the back-and-forth second half when he received the ball alone while charging toward the area. He put the ball on his left foot to draw two defenders the wrong way, before he cut back to his right and poked the ball under Gorgelin.
The Argentina forward then found Pique and Dembele arriving unmarked on quick attacks to complete the demolition.
"When (Messi) is playing at this level you almost can't stop him," said Lyon coach Bruno Genesio. "The third goal completely broke us. We could have been able to do more against a team that was having doubts."

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