Fri, Mar 15, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Messi leads demolition of Lyon to advance Barcelona

Reuters, BARCELONA, Spain

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, left, keeps the ball away from Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes during their Champions League round-of-16 second leg in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday.

Photo: EFE

Lionel Messi led the way with two goals and two assists on Wednesday, as Barcelona reached the quarter-finals in style by thrashing Olympique Lyonnais 5-1 at home.

Barca captain Messi opened the scoring with a “Panenka” penalty chipped straight down the middle in the 17th minute after Luis Suarez was fouled in the area, putting the home side ahead in the tie after a goalless first leg in France.

Suarez then rounded Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes to lay on a perfect pass for the unmarked Philippe Coutinho to nudge into an open net and double Barca’s lead, although Lyon hauled themselves back into contention with a second-half strike from Lucas Tousart.

However, Messi soon killed off any hopes of an unlikely comeback from the French side, carving his way through the defense to score in the 78th minute before toying with Lyon’s back line twice more and laying off passes for Gerard Pique and then Ousmane Dembele to complete the rout.

“We played a great first half, then from a moment’s distraction it was 2-1 and we had five or 10 delicate minutes,” Suarez said.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde had warned his side of complacency after Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid’s surprise exits, and his words carried more weight after Atletico Madrid were knocked out by Juventus despite a 2-0 first-leg win.

Barca reached the last eight for the 12th consecutive season and are Spain’s only representatives in today’s quarter-final draw.

Lyon goalscorer Tousart had little complaint about the final result and said his side were powerless to deal with Messi.

“We have to concede they were better than us. We weren’t up to the challenge and we were up against a great team,” he said. “There was no anti-Messi plan.”

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