Barca's down Arse­nal to reach last 8 of Cham­pi­ons League

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

Barcelona's dy­namic at­tack­ing trio of Ney­mar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi were too strong for Arse­nal as all three scored in a 3-1 vic­tory on Wed­nes­day that sent the Span­ish side into the Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter-fi­nals 5-1 on ag­gre­gate.

Brazil's Ney­mar opened the scor­ing in the first half as the home side dom­i­nated the early play, but Arse­nal's Mo­hamed El­neny curled in an ex­cel­lent fin­ish to spark life into the vis­i­tors af­ter the break.

Suarez, how­ever, launched him­self into the air to meet a Dani Alves cross and send a su­perb vol­ley into the top cor­ner to de­flate the English side, who have now been knocked out of the tour­na­ment in the last 16 for six suc­ces­sive sea­sons.

The mer­cu­rial Messi rounded off the scor­ing with a trade­mark chipped fin­ish two min­utes from time as the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons ex­tended their record-break­ing un­beaten run to 38 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions. "We know we need to at­tack and de­fend at the same level if we want to win," Barcelona coach Luis En­rique told re­porters.

The La Liga lead­ers re­mained on course for a se­cond suc­ces­sive tre­ble and their coach is not con­cerned about who they face in the last eight of Europe's most pres­ti­gious club com­pe­ti­tion.

"The only team I want to keep away from us is Barca and I think we have no chances to meet them," he joked.

The de­feat will in­crease the pres­sure on Arse­nal man­ager Arsene Wenger, whose side are 11 points adrift of lead­ers Le­ices­ter City in the Premier League and ex­ited the FA Cup last week­end.

"We had our chances, but we couldn't take them," Wenger said.

"But we have to say well done to Barcelona. They have two or three play­ers who trans­fer nor­mal life into art." Barcelona served no­tice of their in­tent when Arse­nal keeper David Ospina was forced into a su­perb save to deny Messi, but the re­prieve was short-lived as the hosts took the lead through Ney­mar's side-footed fin­ish af­ter 18 min­utes.

Arse­nal had lost pos­ses­sion play­ing out from the back be­fore Suarez an­gled a per­fect­ly­weighted pass into the path of Ney­mar to slide the ball past Ospina.

For­mer Barcelona for­ward Alexis Sanchez fluffed the vis­i­tors' best chance when he headed wide, but Arse­nal con­tin­ued to press and lev­elled six min­utes into the se­cond half when El­neny bent a sweet fin­ish into the top cor­ner from 20 me­tres.

Just when it looked like Arse­nal might spring a sur­prise, how­ever, Suarez's ac­ro­bat­ics fin­ished the tie be­fore Messi burst into the box and lifted the ball calmly into the net to cap an­other su­perb in­di­vid­ual dis­play.

"We knew they were go­ing to go and take the game to us," Suarez said. "In the end we proved we are strong here and made home ad­van­tage count."

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