Fri, Mar 16, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Messi majestic in Chelsea defeat

Reuters, BARCELONA, Spain

Lionel Messi, center, celebrates scoring Barcelona’s third goal and his 100th Champions League goal against Chelsea on Wednesday at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain.

Photo: Reuters

Lionel Messi on Wednesday scored two brilliant goals and created another for Ousmane Dembele as Barcelona thrashed Chelsea 3-0 to reach the Champions League quarter-finals 4-1 on aggregate.

Messi opened the scoring after 2 minutes, 8 seconds, the quickest goal of his career, slipping the ball through Thibaut Courtois’ legs from a tight angle.

The Argentine forward created the second with a blistering run from the halfway-line, which left three Chelsea defenders stumbling in his wake, before squaring the ball for Dembele to rifle home his first goal for the club.

Marcos Alonso hit the post and Olivier Giroud was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty for a tangle with Gerard Pique as Chelsea tried to launch a comeback, before Messi killed the tie with his 100th Champions League goal.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said his side needed a perfect display to progress, but they started disastrously at a packed Camp Nou when Luis Suarez teed up Messi, who squeezed a low strike through the legs of Courtois.

Chelsea responded well with Giroud and Willian, who scored in the 1-1 first-leg draw at Stamford Bridge, particularly bright in attack.

However, a mistake from Cesc Fabregas on the halfway-line allowed Messi to break in again after 20 minutes and the No. 10 left the Chelsea backline in tatters to set up the second goal, expertly finished by Dembele.

The English side, now needing two goals, nearly got one before halftime. N’Golo Kante dragged a shot just wide and Marcos Alonso crashed a free-kick off the post.

It was the third time across the two legs that Chelsea hit the woodwork and Antonio Rudiger did it again in the closing stages.

Giroud appeared to be brought down by Pique in the area, but referee Damir Skomina did not bow to Chelsea’s protests for a penalty, before Messi drove at the defense again and slotted home Barcelona’s third in the 62nd minute, shooting low between Courtois’ legs for the second time.

Barcelona have reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the 11th consecutive season, while Chelsea were left facing a battle to qualify for the competition again as they scrap for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

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