Barcelona 5-1 Lyon: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Lionel Messi Shines in La Blaugrana Win

Lionel Messi scored twice and set up two more as Barcelona brushed Lyon aside in the Camp Nou on Wednesday night to progress to the Champions League quarter finals.

The hosts capitalised on a dominant first quarter of an hour, with Messi’s cheeky Panenka penalty in the 17th minute giving them a deserved lead, following a clumsy challenge from former Manchester City defender Jason Denayer on Luis Suarez in the area.

The Spanish champions doubled their lead 14 minutes later after a sublime first touch and lay-off from Luis Suarez gave Philippe Coutinho an open goal and a much needed confidence boost for the under-fire Brazilian.

Ousmane Dembele

Lyon pushed higher up in the second half, and were rewarded when a Lucas Tousart volley pulled one back for Les Gones after Barca failed to deal with a corner, which was followed by some serious pressure from the Ligue 1 side.

But after weathering the storm, Messi once got again got Barca out of trouble after a brilliant run from the halfway line preceded an excellent right footed finish after sitting down two Lyon defenders in the process.

The Argentine had a couple more trademark dribbles left in him, setting up Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele with simple finishes to complete the scoring in Catalonia.

Check out 90min’s breakdown of the game below.


BARCELONA

Key ?Talking Point

At times in the first half, watching Ernesto Valverde’s side was like watching the football equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters.

However, the evening was not as simple for five time European champions as the scoreline suggests, and they had to rely on their talisman to see them through.

Lionel Messi

The 31-year-old was sensational in the second half. Lyon simply could not handle the dribbling ability and he soon cleared all nerves that the near 100,000 Barca fans may have had in the Camp Nou after the Ligue 1 side’s goal to make it 2-1.

With the exception of a nervy 15 minutes, Barca were in total control of this match, and almost seemed to bait Lyon into thinking they actually had a chance.

Luis Suarez and Arthur in particular were excellent for the home side, and of all the teams to avoid in Friday’s quarter final draw, Barcelona will be right at the top of that list.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (6); Roberto (6), Pique (7), Lenglet (6), Alba (6); Rakitic (6), Busquets (7), Arthur (8); Messi (9), Suarez (8), Coutinho (6)

Substitutes: Dembele (n/a), Vidal (n/a)


Star Man – Lionel Messi

Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning hat-trick which sent Juventus through against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, all the focus switched to Lionel Messi to see if he could match his great rival’s heroics.

The Barca icon delivered in a big way tonight, and his dribbling skills, finishing ability and unbelievable creativity were all on show here. The Argentine looks more determined than ever to claim his fifth Champions League title in Madrid in May. There are quite simply not enough words to describe just how good he is.


LYON

Key Talking Point

Bruno Génésio’s side really did give this a go, but starting with five at the back really did leave them exposed in midfield. The French side’s plan was clearly to try and contain Messi and company, then hit them on the counter attack.

Lucas Tousart,Marcelo,Tanguy Ndombele

To their credit, they did create a couple of chances, most notably for former Celtic forward Moussa Dembele, who fired wide after an excellent move. But after the excellent goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was forced to come off after a head injury in the first half, it appeared they were done.

However, Les Gones can be proud of their performance in this match, but eventually the gulf in class told, although 5-1 was pretty harsh on the team.


Player Ratings?

Starting XI: Lopes (8); Dubois (6), Denayer (5), Marcelo (6), Marcal (6), Mendy (5); Tousart (6), NDombele (7), Fekir (5); Dembele (6), Depay (5)

Substitutes: Gorgelin (5), Traore (5), Cornet (5)


Looking Ahead

?Following the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals, Barcelona will face a trip to Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday evening, before a local derby against Espanyol on 30 March. The Catalonians will look to extent their seven-point lead in La Liga in their quest for a historic treble.

Lyon return to Ligue 1 action this weekend looking to cement their place in the league’s third and final Champions League qualification spot. They host Montpellier on Sunday, before a trip to Rennes on the 29th.

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Twitter Reacts as Liverpool Storm Past Bayern Munich & Into Champions League Quarter Finals

?Liverpool powered their way into the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday evening, as a fine display saw them beat Bayern Munich 3-1 at the Allianz Arena.

Here’s how it all unfolded in the beguiling platform that is social media…

Going into the match, Liverpool fans were far from impressed with their manager’s choice of midfield trio – Jürgen Klopp decided to drop their flourishing holding midfielder Fabinho, and field James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum in a trio stodgier than a sticky toffee pudding risotto:

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??Well, Reds fans got what they wished for, and the Brazil international came on just 12 minutes into the game, when Henderson limped off with what appeared to be an ankle injury.

After a cagey starting, the game sprang into life in the 26th minute, as Sadio Mané delicately controlled Virgil van Dijk’s through ball, before effortlessly turning Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and chipping home a sumptuous finish. Understandably, Twitter exploded:


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??As one might expect, Bayern Munich came flying back at their opponents looking to bag the two goals necessary to progress into the next round, and Liverpool weathered the storm admirably until the break.

The visitors held their lead for little over ten minutes, as Niko Kova?’s side pulled level to send the home fans into raptures. Andrew Robertson lost concentration, allowing Serge Gnabry to ghost in behind the Scotsman, before whipping a shot across the face of goal that was turned into his own net by Joël Matip:


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??The Reds battened down the hatches again, and managed to claw their way to half-time with the scores still level, and with the added bonus of the all-important away goal to help settle their  nerves.

The emotions of Liverpool fans were mixed at the break, as a combination of excitement and nervous (okay, 90% nerves) took hold of the supporters:

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??The second half began as the first did, with both sides patiently probing their opponents’ backlines in the hope of securing a winning goal.

In the 68th minute, Liverpool sent their travelling fans into hysteria, as Van Dijk rose above Matts Hummels to slam home a towering header from Jame’s Milner’s divine corner kick:




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??Things went up a notch soon after, as Mané scored his second goal of the night to ensure a famous win for his side.

The Senegalese sensation nodded home a beautifully taken header, after latching on to a fine cross from Mohamed Salah:



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??The Reds were in cruise control, and ran down the clock to secure a famous win in Germany.

Andrew Robertson was booked late on, meaning that he’ll miss the quarter-final first leg, but that was a mere footnote on otherwise glorious night for the Merseyside club:




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??Well, that’s all for tonight. What a sensational result for the Reds! Now all eyes will be on the draw for the next round, and who Klopp’s men will meet on their next step on the road to Madrid…

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Bayern Munich 1-3 Liverpool: Report, Ratings and Reaction as Reds Blast Past Blundering Bavarians

Liverpool booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday evening, with an emphatic 3-1 win over Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena.

After a tense start to the match, Liverpool took the lead midway through the first half, as Sadio Mané delicately controlled Virgil van Dijk’s speculative long ball, before taking the ball around Manuel Neuer and chipping home a delightful finish.

Sadio Mane,Manuel Neuer

The Reds held their lead for just 13 minutes, and a mistake from Andrew Robertson saw Serge Gnabry ghost behind their backline, before driving a ball across the face of goal which was fired into his own net by Liverpool defender Joël Matip. 

Liverpool took the lead again midway through the second half via van Dijk’s powerful header, before Mané put the icing on the cake late on with a splendid header.

Here’s how the big night unfolded…


Bayern Munich

Key Talking Point

Heading into the game, there was a sense that Liverpool could use their potent attacking power to run riot against ?Bayern’s aged defence, and give Niko Kova?’s hardy bunch of veterans a timely reminder they’re moving into the twilight of their footballing careers.

While Liverpool didn’t inflict the kind of aggressive, free-flowing football they unleashed in the completion last season, Die Roten certainly showed their age late on, as their players failed to show the dynamism and drive needed to haul their way back into the tie.

It was, in truth, a tired looking performance, and the raucous atmosphere created by the fans went completely unrewarded by their side’s lacklustre showing.


Player Ratings: Neuer (5); Rafinha (5), Süle (5) Hummels (6), Alaba (5) Martínez (5); Thiago (7), Gnabry (7), Rodríguez (6), Ribéry (5); Lewandowski (6)

Substitutes: Coman (6), Goretzka (6), Sanches (N/A)


Star Man – Thiago

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Let’s be honest, nobody had a particularly memorable game for Bayern, but Thiago showed some real grit and determination in midfield – something that was severely lacking from most of his teammates. He put in a typically diligent performance, and made sure the Reds worked hard for their win.

Of course, it was by no means a classic outing, but he was the man making things happen at stages of the game where his side looked like they could fight their way back into the tie.

Here’s how his performance went down on social media:



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Liverpool

Key Talking Point

When the starting line-ups were announced, it’s fair to say that Reds fans weren’t exactly over the moon with Jürgen Klopp’s rather, shall we say, stodgy selection in central midfield, as he opted to field James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum in the same midfield.


Well, Liverpool fans were concerned to see Henderson limp off with an ankle injury early on, but his absence didn’t seem to affect their efforts one iota, as substitute Fabinho put in another splendid display for his side. The Brazilian gave Klopp’s team a tad more dynamism, which proved pivotal in helping them secure the famous win.

And of course, when the Reds needed to shut up shop, the inclusion of the less glamorous midfielders worked a treat, as they managed to superbly nullify the attacking threat of the hosts.


Player Ratings: Alisson (7); Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (6), van Dijk (8), Robertson (6); Milner (7), Henderson (N/A), Wijnaldum (7); Salah (7) Roberto Firmino (6) Mané (9)

Substitutes: Fabinho (7), Origi (N.A), Lallana (N/A)


Star Man – Sadio Mané

Sadio Mane

With Mohamed Salah struggling to match the ridiculously high standards he set himself with his goal return last season, Sadio Mané has been the man to step up when it matters, and he put in another blinding performance for his side on Wednesday evening.

His first half goal was one of his finest for the club, as beautifully controlled Van Dijk’s pass, before remaining composed in a sea of opposition players, and cooly clipping the ball into the net. He sealed the deal with a fine header to ensure a comfortable end to the game, and was outstanding throughout the ninety minutes.

Here’s how his performance went down on social media:



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Looking Ahead

Bayern will look to bounce back from their disappointment next weekend, when they host Mainz in the Bundesliga. Their enthralling title race with Borussia Dortmund looks set to go down to the wire, and big win would go a long way to brighten the spirits of their fans after the Liverpool loss.

The Reds, who are in quite the title battle of their own, travel to Fulham on Sunday, where they’ll be hopeful of cruising past the lowly relegation candidates with relative ease.

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Jordan Henderson a Doubt for England Squad After Ankle Injury in Liverpool Clash With Bayern Munich

?Liverpool ace Jordan Henderson looks likely to miss England’s Euro 2020 qualifiers later this month, after leaving the field with an ankle injury early into his side’s Champions League clash against Bayern Munich.

The holding midfielder had to leave the field for treatment after landing awkwardly when challenging for the ball against an opposition player, and his return to the pitch was short-lived, as he was forced to hop back off soon after. The 28-year-old is now likely to be ruled out of the Three Lions upcoming matches, which will open up a vacancy in the squad.

Jordan Henderson,Robert Lewandowski

Should ?Henderson be deemed unfit to play for England, then manager Gareth Southgate could perhaps turn to ?Southampton star James Ward-Prowse, who was hotly tipped for a recall to the side after a fine run of form with the Saints of late. However, it is unclear whether, should it come to it, the Three Lions boss would be willing to bring the 24-year-old back into the fold.

The squad already have Eric Dier, Fabian Delph and West Ham United starlet Declan Rice to choose from, as well as Ross Barkley and Dele Alli who play in more advanced roles, so Southgate may feel he has adequate cover for Henderson. The ?Reds ace has 48 caps for his country, and played an important role in the side’s impressive 2018 World Cup campaign.

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Meanwhile, ?Southgate has lavished new call-up Rice with praise ahead of the qualification matches, claiming that the player’s character, personality and leadership qualities had been important factors in deciding to bring him into the squad. The 20-year-old had represent the Republic of Ireland before, but was allowed to switch having only played friendly matches.

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Pep Guardiola Warns Man City’s Incredible Form Will Not Continue Without Return of Injured Players

Speaking after Manchester City’s emphatic 7-0 victory over Schalke in the Champions League on Tuesday night, Pep Guardiola has warned that “it won’t be possible” for the Citizens’ winning run to continue if key players do not return from injury soon.

Following EFL Cup glory, the Manchester club are still competing for the Premier League title, the FA Cup and – perhaps most importantly – the UEFA Champions League, and Guardiola will be reliant on squad depth to ensure that fatigue does not get the better of his players as they approach the home straight of the 2018/19 campaign.

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?Man City face ?Swansea in the FA Cup this weekend, while ?Premier League rivals ?Liverpool will face Fulham at Craven Cottage in a league fixture; knowing that a win for the Reds will see them reclaim top spot.

With the Citizens expected to overcome the challenge of second-tier Swansea in the FA Cup, they will likely face further fixture congestion next month, which the City boss has identified as a key time in their season during which a fit squad will be essential.

“We want to continue this run, especially in April, but we need players to come back fit”, claimed Guardiola (quotes via by ?Goal).

Should City progress to the semi final of the FA Cup they would play a total of eight matches in April, including games against ?Tottenham and ?Man Utd as well as a two-legged ?Champions League quarter final tie.

Kyle Walker

?Kevin De Bruyne and ?Fernandinho, who were both formidable in City’s title winning season last year, are currently sidelined through injury. Last season saw them win the Premier League with 100 points, as well as picking up the League Cup.

Their ability to improve on this in the current campaign will likely be determined by getting the two midfielders back fit and playing their best.

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