Lionel Messi finally broke his Chelsea hoodoo as he scored for the first time in nine games against the Blues to cancel out Willian’s opener and give Barcelona the edge from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge Tuesday.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte sprang a surprise in his starting XI by leaving out both Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata and playing Eden Hazard in a false 9 ole flanked by Willian and former Barca winger Pedro Rodriguez.
Barca however dominated possession for a large spell of the first half but lacked penetration as the Blues defended in numbers and hit back with quick breaks.
Messi shrugged off his markers to pick out Paulinho with a pinpoint cross only for the Brazilian to head wide, while Willian – Chelsea’s most dangerous player on the night – struck the post, twice, before the break with Barca keeper Marc Andre ter Stegen beaten.
Chelsea deservedly went ahead in the 62nd minute after Willian fired home from the edge of the area following a short corner.
The lead didn’t last too long however as Andres Iniesta intercepted Andreas Christensen’s dangerous ball across goal before playing a centre for Messi to sweep home past Thibaut Courtois to give Barca a precious draw.
At the Allianz Arena, Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski each netted twice as Bayern Munich thrashed 10-man Besiktas 5-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
The Turkish champions made a bright start but paid the ultimate price when defender Domagoj Vida was sent off bringing down Lewandowski after 16 minutes with the Poland captain through on goal.
Muller then squeezed the ball in after a spell of pressure from the hosts, and Kingsley Coman doubled the lead after the break.
Besiktas collapsed in the second period and further goals from Muller, and a late Lewandowski brace ensured the second-leg would be a formality for the Bavarians.