In what was the most important game of the season so far, Barcelona produced one of their most impressive and complete performances. The Blaugrana advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals thanks to a 5-1 win over Lyon in the second leg of their Round of 16 matchup. Barça had a spectacular first half, then conceded an early goal in the second, showed great composure to avoid major trouble and scored three more goals to win in style and move on to the Last Eight.
Barça started the game by suffocating Lyon, attacking from both flanks and constantly creating danger with movement and smart passing. They also pressed really high up the pitch, and the visitors didn’t even have a chance to counter attack early on. After 15 great minutes, Barça earned a penalty when Jason Denayer fouled Luis Suárez inside the box. Lionel Messi scored a Panenka to give the Blaugrana the lead, and Lyon had work to do.
Unfortunately for the French side they were up against a very inspired and intense Barça, who didn’t let up after the first goal and continued to pass and press on the hunt for more goals. And they got a second when Arthur played a beautiful pass to Luis Suárez inside the box, and the Uruguayan gave Philippe Coutinho an easy tap-in to double the home team’s lead.
Things went from bad to worse for Lyon when their star goalkeeper Anthony Lopes had to leave the pitch in tears after trying to play through what seemed like a concussion, and his backup Mathieu Gorgelin was forced into action.
The French side needed two goals to advance, and they had no choice but to attack and try to get at least one before halftime. They showed very little creativity offensively, however, and Nabil Fekir was simply shut down by the Barça defense in the first 45 minutes.
At halftime, Barça were dominant and attack-minded, and they were just a clean sheet away from the quarterfinals.
Barça decided to start the second half with a more cautious approach, giving Lyon more of the ball and trying to attack the space in behind. The plan failed quickly as Lucas Tousart scored for Lyon to make it 2-1 with 30 minutes to go and give the French plenty of hope, since they only needed to equalize to qualify. Lyon increased the pressure right after the goal, but Barça did a good job of weathering the storm and regaining control of the ball.
After successfully slowing down the pace and forcing Lyon to retreat, Barça delivered the knockout blow with two goals in three minutes: first Messi scored with his right foot after faking two Lyon defenders out of the stadium, then the captain found Gerard Piqué with a genius cross and the defender scored an easy tap-in to make it 4-1 and book Barça’s place in the quarterfinal. There was still time for another counter attack and another Messi assist, this time to Ousmane Dembélé for Barça’s fifth of the game.
The final whistle came to end a masterclass from the Blaugrana. Other than the first 15 minutes of the second half, this was a fantastic performance. And Messi had two goals and two assists. Imagine what will happen when he’s in good form.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto (Semedo), Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur (Vidal); Messi, Suárez, Coutinho (Dembélé)
Goals: Messi (17’, 78’), Coutinho (31’), Piqué (81’), Dembélé (86’)
Lyon: Lopes (Gorgelin); Dubois, Denayer, Marcelo, Marçal, Mendy (Cornet); Dembélé, Tousart, Ndombele, Depay (Traoré); Fekir
Goal: Tousart (58’)