Cyprus Mail
Champions League

Relentless Messi leads demolition of Lyon

Lionel Messi scored twice and set up two more as Barca reached the Champions League quarter-finals for a record 12th straight year

Lionel Messi lead the way with two goals and two assists as Barcelona reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in style by thrashing Olympique Lyonnais 5-1 at home on Wednesday and advancing by the same scoreline on aggregate.

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.

Messi soon killed off any hopes of an unlikely comeback from the French side, however, carving his way through the defence 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.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde had warned his side of complacency after Paris St 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.

His side were in a more vulnerable position as a score draw would have sent them out, and they began the game as if they meant business, with Messi firing an early shot which Lopes had to beat away for a corner.

Lyon’s Lopes had to be taken off injured later in the first half, leaving the field in tears after taking a blow to the face, with Mathieu Gorgelin replacing him and making his Champions League debut.

Barca looked unsettled for a brief period after Tousart’s goal had put Lyon one goal away from knocking the Catalans out, and the home side defended with an air of panic.

But Messi soon eased their nerves, and they reached the last eight of Europe’s elite competition for the 12th consecutive season and will be Spain’s only representatives in Friday’s quarter-final draw.

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