Arsenal vs Barcelona : Full highlights and all goals
It really is the hope that kills you and no-one knows the way to snatch it away quite like Lionel Messi and Barcelona.
For seventy minutes of this Champions League round of sixteen first-leg tie, Arsenal held their own and traded punches with the most efficient team on the earth.
Arsène Wenger’s players overcame their early apprehension and developed the idea that they might even claim a vital and surprising advantage prior to the return game in Catalonia.
But despite Messi having one amongst his quieter nights, the wizardly Argentine walked off the pitch with 2 goals and Barcelona’s passport to the quarter-finals in his hands following a usually stunning – and brutal – show of his killer instinct.
This wasn’t an event for the carefree soccer that Arsenal are capable of producing to devastating impact against domestic opponents and those supporters within the arena additionally had to buy into the more passive approach.
It was roughly as defensive as Chelsea’s backs-to-the-wall semi-final triumph against Barcelona within the 2012 semi-final, however Arsenal were actually making life troublesome for Messi and Co.
As Wenger had insisted before the game, Arsenal had to seek out the “right balance between being audacious and defensively strong”, however that was easier said than done.
Barcelona were guilty of overplaying, making an attempt to run the ball into the net, and Arsenal were ready to ride the storm and check the European champions at the opposite end.
Özil’s cross to Giroud saw the Frenchman’s shot blocked by Mascherano before Giroud forced a shocking save from Ter Stegen seconds later with a soaring header.
Having seen Suarez flash an effort across goal, Arsenal began to creak and the opening goal came on 71 minutes after a breathtaking counter by Suarez, Neymar and Messi.
Messi’s finish, having taken a touch before beating Cech for the first time, was neat and tidy, but Neymar’s pass was exquisite – an unselfish display of awareness to tee up his team-mate.