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Messi Breaks Blues Hoodoo to Leave Tie In The Balance



Barcelona came from behind after Willian’s strike put Chelsea in front, Lionel Messi scoring his first ever goal against the Blues.

Lionel Messi scored for the first time against Chelsea as Barcelona came from behind to take a vital away goal into the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.

Willian hit the post twice but finally found the net with what looked to be the winning goal, only for Messi to score for the first time in six games to earn a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, leaving the clash finely balanced.

Chelsea and Barca were facing each other for the 13th time in the Champions League, renewing their rivalry after a classic semi-final clash in 2012, and for much of the contest there was nothing between the sides despite Barca’s inevitable dominance of the ball.

Barcelona had 75 per cent possession in the first half but the Catalans were perhaps fortunate to go into half-time level, Willian having been denied by the woodwork on two occasions.

He fine-tuned his radar after the interval, however, rifling home into Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s bottom-left corner to give Chelsea the lead.

But Messi pounced on his only chance of the game, capitalising on sloppy Chelsea defending to slot in from Andres Iniesta’s pass to give Barca a narrow advantage ahead of the second leg on March 14.

Eden Hazard, playing a central attacking role with Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud benched, flashed a drive over as Chelsea made a bright start.

Antonio Rudiger flicked Willian’s right-wing corner wide, then Paulinho missed an even better aerial chance when picked out by Messi, planting his header wide of the post.

Ter Stegen made a comfortable save to keep out Willian’s free-kick after the Brazilian had been brought down by Ivan Rakitic, who earned the game’s first booking.

Willian was even closer with his next effort after 33 minutes but, although Ter Stegen was well beaten, the 25-yard curler cracked against the post and rebounded to safety.

And from an almost identical position Willian hit the woodwork again, this time clipping the outside of Ter Stegen’s right-hand post with a strike that curled away from the goalkeeper.

Luis Suarez flashed a strike across goal as Barcelona built pressure, but they were caught out by the sucker punch as Willian finally found his range after 62 minutes.

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