Barcelona Vs Arsenal: Messi takes catalans into QF

Written by: Biswajeet Panda
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Messi in action against Arsenal on Mar 8, Image: Getty
Nou Camp, Mar 9: It was considered the mother of all battles in football and it lived every bit to the hype generated. Expect fireworks when Arsenal and Barcelona clash and they provided exactly that when the teams clashed at Nou Camp for the second straight season. The La Liga champions crushed Arsenal, also referred to as the gunners, 3-1 to win the tie 4-3 on aggregate and thus moved into the quarter-finals of UEFA Champions League.

Lionel Messi and Xavi scored two and one goals each to see Barcelona home. For the Gunners, it was Barcelona's Sergio Busquets own goal that was the only thing they took home.

Barcelona, also known as the Catalans started the match in typical fashion as they dominated with their slick passing and starved anything that Arsenal tried to do.

Prior to the start of the match, Arsenal received a shot in the arm when Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas were both declared fit. Manager Arsene Wenger made three changes to the side that won the first round at the Emirates. While Barcelona started without usual centre-backs Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique. The former was out due to injury and the latter due to a suspension. Eric Abadal partnered Sergio Busquets in defence as Javier Mascherano took Sergio's place in the mid-field.

Messi fired the first goal for Barcelona when he controlled a pass and lofted the ball above advancing Almunia and finally shot a volley in to the Arsenal goal post. Arsenal drew level in the 53rd minute of the match when Sergio Busquets headed a own goal into Barcelona nets.

And from then onwards nothing went right for the Gunners as Van Persie was controversially sent off for a second bookable offence. Barcelona now exerted more pressure on the 10-man Arsenal. Xavi scored Barcelona's second goal in the 69th minute of the match when Iniesta went past the Arsenal defence and passed the ball to Xavi who simply shot the ball past Almunia.

And Messi struck his second goal of the match and Catalan's third in the 71st minute of the match to see his side move into the quarter-finals of UEFA Champion's league.

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