Champions League - Round of 16 - 1st Leg
Arsenal0Barcelona2

Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona

Lionel Messi puts Barcelona in front at Arsenal
Lionel Messi puts Barcelona in front at Arsenal

Lionel Messi effectively condemned Arsenal to a sixth successive exit at the last-16 stage of the Champions League with two decisive goals at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal battled gallantly to give themselves a chance going into the second leg at the Nou Camp in three weeks' time - but suffered at the hands of Barcelona's superstar trio Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

After Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud had come close to giving Arsenal the lead, Messi scored his first goal against keeper Petr Cech at the seventh attempt when he crowned a blistering counter-attack involving Suarez and Neymar to sweep home a finish after 71 minutes.

And further damage was inflicted seven minutes from time when Arsenal substitute Mathieu Flamini floored Messi with a mistimed challenge and he got up to send Cech the wrong way from the spot. It was his eighth goal against Arsenal in the Champions League.

Suarez hit the post and Cech saved from Neymar as Barcelona took control - but this tie already looks well out of Arsenal's reach.

Watch Phil McNulty's post-match Facebook Q&A here

Listen to highlights of the match on BBC Radio 5 live

Listen to Wenger's reaction to the game

All over for Arsenal

Arsenal went out to Barcelona in 2010 and 2011 and that was after a draw and a win at Emirates Stadium - so their chances can be all but written off after this defeat.

The Gunners had their chances but they came to nothing, with Oxlade-Chamberlain a culprit when he allowed Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to save from a huge opportunity before Giroud saw a second-half header well saved.

Such is the ruthlessness of this Barcelona side that even half-chances (or less) have to be accepted and, if they are not, there is almost an inevitability about the outcome.

Wenger can make the usual optimistic noises about the second leg in the Nou Camp but it would be the greatest result of his reign if he managed to inspire a turnaround from this position.

It is, perhaps, on nights like these that those calls for Wenger to sign a world-class striker carry greater resonance because even the smallest opportunities have to count and Arsenal were unable to do so.

More on Arsenal's defeat by Barca
Barcelona are "95% through" to the Champions League quarter-finals
'No excuse for first goal' - listen to Wenger's post-match reaction
Listen to highlights of the match on BBC Radio 5 live
'Barca will wish they had scored more' - 5 live Football Daily podcast
Phil McNulty video Q&A: Is Wenger now under pressure?

Unstoppable MSN

Graphic showing that Barcelona's front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar (right) had far more touches in the Arsenal half than Arsenal's attacking trio of Olivier Giroud, Mesur Ozil and Alexis Sanchez managed in the Barcelona half
Barcelona's front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar (right) had far more touches in the Arsenal half than Arsenal's attacking trio of Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez managed in the Barcelona half

The big fear before the game was that Arsenal would be unable to keep Barca's big three quiet for 90 minutes no matter how hard they tried - and so it proved.

Strange as it may seem, this was not Messi, Neymar and Suarez at their very best but they still cast a huge shadow over Arsenal and created havoc.

Suarez had two missed opportunities at the end of the first half, Cech made two magnificent saves from Neymar and Messi contributed to the two decisive goals. This on a night when even the three themselves will admit they have played much better.

All three carry a touch of genius while offering contrasting qualities. Neymar's change of pace was startling, Suarez is like a shark as he makes his way around defences spreading chaos while Messi remains peerless.

Any team hoping to take the Champions League crown from Barcelona will have to work out how to stop the great Barcelona trinity - easier said than done.

Arsenal deserve credit

Arsenal and manager Wenger will be desolate after this result effectively consigns them to yet another last 16 exit - but they deserve a measure of credit for their display.

In the first half they were hugely disciplined to keep Barcelona at bay, indeed in the first 30 minutes the holders only had two touches in Arsenal's penalty area compared to 11 from Wenger's team.

Goalkeeper Cech was immense while Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey were also excellent.

Ultimately, however, Arsenal were not good enough - no shame in that - but all that is left is for Barcelona to complete the formalities in Catalonia in three weeks.

Man of the match: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Lionel Messi scored in his 51st different Champions League match - only Raul (56 games) and Ronaldo (60 games) have scored in more.
Lionel Messi scored in his 51st different Champions League match - only Raul (56 games) and Ronaldo (60 games) have scored in more.

Manager reaction

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on BT Sport: "Barcelona are a great team. We put a lot of energy in the game and technically we were very average.

"The regret I had was once we looked like we dominated the game, we give the goal away. Similar to Monaco last season, naive, and that is frustrating. When we looked like we could win the game, we just gave it away.

"Realistically it is very, very difficult, if not impossible. We have to go there and fight. We had the chances, we didn't score."

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique: "I am happy with everything. There was nothing that I didn't like. Nothing.

"The result is really good, but the tie is not over. We will have to go out to win."

'Arsenal lacked quality in final third'

Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas on BBC Radio 5 live: "I felt the Arsenal players gave a good account of themselves in parts of the game but this Barcelona side have got too much class.

"Arsenal will be thinking what could have been. They didn't capitalise on the opportunities they had. They didn't seem to have enough when Barcelona ramped it up.

"I was really happy with Arsenal's tactics for once but I don't think they had the quality in the final third."

The stats you need to know

  • Lionel Messi ended a run of 10 hours and 11 minutes without a goal against Petr Cech (seventh game against him).
  • There were just 47 seconds between Mathieu Flamini coming on to the pitch and him giving away a penalty.
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in 33 competitive games - their best ever run in all competitions. The record for a Spanish team is for Real Madrid with 34 games in a row without defeat back in 1987-88.
  • Arsenal failed to score for the first time in 14 Champions League matches.

What next?

Arsenal will have to raise themselves quickly after this defeat as they get back to their Premier League title chase with a game at Manchester United on Sunday, 28 February (14:05 GMT). Spanish league leaders Barcelona host Sevilla in La Liga on the same day.

Line-ups

Arsenal

  • 33Cech
  • 24Bellerín
  • 4Mertesacker
  • 6Koscielny
  • 18MonrealBooked at 6mins
  • 16Ramsey
  • 34CoquelinSubstituted forFlaminiat 82'minutes
  • 15Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forWalcottat 50'minutes
  • 11Özil
  • 17Sánchez
  • 12GiroudSubstituted forWelbeckat 72'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Gibbs
  • 13Ospina
  • 14Walcott
  • 20Flamini
  • 21Chambers
  • 23Welbeck
  • 28Campbell

Barcelona

  • 1ter Stegen
  • 6Dani Alves
  • 3PiquéBooked at 85mins
  • 14Mascherano
  • 18Alba
  • 4Rakitic
  • 5Busquets
  • 8Iniesta
  • 10Messi
  • 9L Suárez
  • 11Neymar

Substitutes

  • 13Bravo
  • 17El Haddadi
  • 20Sergi
  • 21Adriano
  • 22Vidal Parreu
  • 23Vermaelen
  • 24Mathieu
Referee:
Cüneyt Çakir
Attendance:
59,889

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamBarcelona
Possession
Home34%
Away66%
Shots
Home8
Away15
Shots on Target
Home3
Away4
Corners
Home1
Away7
Fouls
Home13
Away14

Live Text

Match ends, Arsenal 0, Barcelona 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Arsenal 0, Barcelona 2.

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Petr Cech.

Attempt saved. Neymar (Barcelona) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) because of an injury.

Dani Alves (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Mesut Özil (Arsenal).

Foul by Neymar (Barcelona).

Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Booking

Gerard Piqué (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Gerard Piqué (Barcelona).

Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Dani Alves (Barcelona).

Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal!

Goal! Arsenal 0, Barcelona 2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the bottom left corner.

Penalty Barcelona. Lionel Messi draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) after a foul in the penalty area.

Luis Suárez (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal).

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Mathieu Flamini replaces Francis Coquelin.

Foul by Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona).

Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Luis Suárez (Barcelona).

Francis Coquelin (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Danny Welbeck with a headed pass.

Attempt blocked. Luis Suárez (Barcelona) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sergio Busquets.

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.

Luis Suárez (Barcelona) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Lionel Messi following a fast break.

Attempt blocked. Neymar (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lionel Messi.

Jordi Alba (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Danny Welbeck replaces Olivier Giroud.

Goal!

Goal! Arsenal 0, Barcelona 1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Neymar following a fast break.

Foul by Jordi Alba (Barcelona).

Mesut Özil (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Lionel Messi (Barcelona).

Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Luis Suárez (Barcelona) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right misses to the left. Assisted by Sergio Busquets.

Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jordi Alba.

goal

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Real Madrid65101931616
2PSG64111211113
3Shakhtar Donetsk6105714-73
4Malmö FF6105121-203

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Wolfsburg640296312
2PSV Eindhoven631287110
3Man Utd62227708
4CSKA Moscow611459-44

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Atl Madrid6411113813
2Benfica6312108210
3Galatasaray6123610-45
4FC Astana6042511-64

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Man City6402128412
2Juventus632163311
3Sevilla6204811-36
4B Mgladbach6123812-45

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Barcelona64201541114
2Roma61321116-56
3B Leverkusen6132131216
4BATE Borisov6123512-75

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Bayern Munich65011931615
2Arsenal6303121029
3Olympiakos6303613-79
4Dinamo Zagreb6105314-113

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea64111331013
2Dynamo Kiev632184411
3FC Porto631298110
4Maccabi Tel-Aviv6006116-150

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Zenit St Petersburg6501136715
2KAA Gent631287110
3Valencia620459-46
4Lyon611459-44
View full Champions League tables

Top Stories