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LIONEL Messi scored his first ever goal against Chelsea as Barcelona came back from 1-0 down to leave Stamford Bridge with a 1-1 draw in a compelling Champions League Round of 16 first leg clash at Stamford Bridge.

The forward’s longest goal drought against any opponent ended after 730 minutes when Chelsea was made to pay for a rare slip in concentration after successfully containing the Spanish club’s threat.

“Willian could have had a hat-trick — but we go home sad because a fantastic performance is not a fantastic result,” Chelsea’s former Barca midfielder Cesc Fabregas told BT Sport.

“We have to go there to attack and score because 90 minutes defending at the Nou Camp is an eternity, it is a suicide mission. We have to play our game.”

“They are one of the best teams in Europe, they have great players and this is the Champions League. In this competition any move or mistake can cost you a lot,” Iniesta told TV3.

“I think it will be a different game at home. Playing in front of our fans, on our pitch.”

Barca dominated possession but Willian opened the scoring for Chelsea in the second-half with a stunning striker, after he hit both posts in the first-half.

After a game of stoic defending from the men in blue, the hosts imploded and were punished for one mistake, playing out from the back in the 75th minute.

Andreas Christensen gave the ball away, Andres Iniesta pounced, got the better of Cesar Azpilicueta and then teed up Messi for the cool finish.

After 730 minutes of action against Chelsea in his career, it was Messi’s first goal against the Premier League club.

It prevented Barcelona from slipping to only its second loss in all competitions since August, and secured a valuable away goal to take back to the Camp Nou on March 14.

“Against this opponent, this type of player like Messi, (Luis) Suarez, Iniesta, if you make a mistake you pay,” said Conte.

“There is a bit of disappointment. But at the same time this game must give us a lot of confidence to trust that in the second leg the qualification is open.”

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, and his teammate Andres Iniesta celebratE

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, right, and his teammate Andres Iniesta celebratE
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates

“We failed to create clear-cut chances despite having domination of the game. In the end it came from an error from them and we took advantage,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde.

“It is a good score given we were behind and clearly there is everything left to decide in the second leg.”

It was 0-0 at half-time in the clash between the La Liga and Premier League champions, which saw the Catalan club have over 70 per cent on the ball without yielding a shot on target, while the hosts, playing on the counter-attack, enjoyed the better chances, including seeing Brazilian Willian see two separate strikes cannon off the woodwork.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi
Chelsea can’t believe it.

Chelsea can’t believe it.

The English champions must now score when they travel to the Camp Nou on March 14 to have any chance of making the last eight.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte sprang a surprise before kick-off by leaving out both Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata with Eden Hazard instead operating in the middle of a front three featuring Willian and former Barca winger Pedro Rodriguez.

And it was Hazard who sent the first warning that Barca were in for an uncomfortable evening when he fired just over from 20 yards five minutes in.

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Antonio Rudiger also headed just wide in a positive opening from the hosts, but it was Barca who had the first clear chance on 16 minutes.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates after Willian scored his side's first goal

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates after Willian scored his side’s first goal
Chelsea's Willian, celebrates scoring his side's first goal

Chelsea’s Willian, celebrates scoring his side’s first goal

Chelsea constantly tried to surround Messi with three or four blue shirts to limit the Argentine’s threat, but he dug out a cross to the far post where an unmarked Paulinho headed wide.

Barca then went on to dominate possession for a large spell of the first half with their control of the ball reaching 80 percent at one stage.

However, the visitors lacked penetration before the break and were lucky to go in level at half-time.

Willian showed his ability to score from outside the box off either foot with a double against Hull City to take Chelsea into the FA Cup quarter-finals on Friday.

Chelsea's Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (L) vies with Barcelona's Argentinian striker Lionel Messi (R)

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (L) vies with Barcelona’s Argentinian striker Lionel Messi (R)

He was inches away from another long-range stunner when he curled onto the post from 25 yards with Marc-Andre ter Stegen beaten in the Barca goal.

Barca had kept six clean sheets in their previous seven Champions League games, but once again had good luck rather than good defending to thank four minutes before the break when Willian hooked another effort from outside the box off the woodwork.

Hazard then volleyed just over as Chelsea ended the half on a high. Barca appeared to have restored order early second period, but failed to learn their lesson of Willian’s danger from the edge of the box.

Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (2nd L) winks at Barcelona's Argentinian striker Lionel Messi as they shake hands

Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (2nd L) winks at Barcelona’s Argentinian striker Lionel Messi as they shake hands

A short corner was worked into the Brazilian’s path and he arrowed a low shot past the rooted Ter Stegen.

However, Barca remain unbeaten in 31 La Liga and Champions League games under Ernesto Valverde thanks to a late rally.

Luis Suarez had claims for a penalty waved away when he went down under pressure from Rudiger.

But Barca’s protests had barely been silenced before they were level. Christensen’s dangerous ball across his own box was a gift for an old scourge of Chelsea in Iniesta.

At the end where he broke Chelsea hearts with a stoppage-time equaliser in a highly controversial semi-final in 2009, Iniesta this time squared for Messi to apply the finishing touch low past Thibaut Courtois for his 28th goal of the season.

Former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti in the stands at Stamford Bridge.

Former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti in the stands at Stamford Bridge.


Bayern Munich, helped by two typical Thomas Mueller goals and two from Robert Lewandowski, romped to a 5-0 win over Besiktas in their tie after the Turkish champions played nearly the whole match with 10 men.

Besiktas defender Domagoj Vida was given a straight red card for tripping Lewandowksi outside the penalty area in the 16th minute, the defining moment in the round of 16, first leg tie.

Mueller, inelegant yet always effective, broke the deadlock with a miskick two minutes before half-time to break Besiktas’s resistance.

Kingsley Coman and Mueller added two more before Lewandowski helped himself to a late brace, virtually assuring the Bavarians of a seventh successive quarter- final appearance.

Bayern Munich's midfielder Thomas Mueller (C) celebrates

Bayern Munich’s midfielder Thomas Mueller (C) celebrates

Source : Fox Sports 

Ogaga Onokwakpor

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