Barcelona are officially qualified for the quarterfinals of this season's UEFA Champions League after a 3-1 win at Camp Nou against Arsenal, with goals from Neymar, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi, with Mohamed Elneny scoring for the visitors. The Blaugrana did not have the best of performances and had to survive the attacking attitude from the Gunners, but ultimately showed efficiency, capitalized on their chances and advanced to the next knockout stage.
The Gunners needed at least two goals on the road, so they predictably went forward with real purpose and good movement, creating a few good chances especially with shots from outside the box but not really bothering keeper Ter Stegen.
Barça slowly but surely took control of the actions, limiting Arsenal's counter-attacks and keeping possession. When they didn't have the ball, the Blaugranes pressed high up the pitch to recover it, and when Suárez got a steal close to the box, he found Neymar with a perfect pass and the Brazilian easily scored the first.
Towards the end of the half, the hosts controlled the game even more, with the London side having a difficult time to find any real opportunities to score apart from a good Alexis Sánchez header that nearly went in just before the end of the period.
At halftime, a nearly guaranteed spot in the quarterfinals and a performance that needed improvement.
Needing three goals, the Gunners had no option other than to go all out in the attack. They brought plenty of pressure high up the pitch, forced mistakes by the Catalans and quickly took advantage. Just five minutes into the half, Elneny delivered a sensational shot to the top corner and equalized to give Arsenal hope.
After conceding, Barça had several bad minutes of shaky defense and poor offense, lacking creativity up front and security at the back. But only one moment of genius solved all problems. A nice Dani Alves cross found Suárez, and El Pistolero scored the second with a sensational volley to the top corner. To finish the job, all the 'MSN' members got into the fun, with Messi chipping over Ospina to score a beautiful goal.
Ter Stegen had to make some great saves in the final minutes, but Barça kept the lead and the spot in the quarterfinals. Not the best performance, but qualification was all that mattered in the end. And the streak is alive. Perfect, right?
Barcelona: Stegen; Alves, Mascherano, Mathieu, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic (Arda), Iniesta (Roberto); Messi, Suárez, Neymar
Goals: Neymar (18'), Suárez (64'), Messi (89')
Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerín, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini (Coquelin), Elneny; Iwobi (Walcott), Özil, Alexis; Welbeck (Giroud)
Goals: Elneny (50')