LEVERKUSEN: Barcelona took a decisive step towards taking their defence of the Champions League on into the quarter-finals after winning 3-1 away to Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their second round tie at the BayArena.

Leverkusen sought to frustrate Barcelona in the first half but Alexis ┬áSanchez’s first Champions League goal, in the 41st minute, separated the teams at the break. After the break Leverkusen levelled through Michal Kadlec and then having several chances before Sanchez’s second put Barcelona back in front.

Two ┬áminutes from time Lionel Messi was both creator and finisher as he slipped Dani Alves through and the Brazilian selflessly squared for the Argentinian to score Barcelona’s third goal.

In France, in the evening’s other second-round tie, Alexandre Lacazette’s deflected goal gave Lyon a narrow 1-0 win over defensive APOEL Nicosia, the first Cypriot side to reach the last 16.

Lacazette struck after 58 minutes to give some relief to Lyon, whose poor domestic form has seen them slip 11 points adrift of leaders Paris Saint-Germain in the French league.

With two minutes to play, APOEL finally had their first attempt of the match as Gustavo Manduca, on as a late substitute, cut in from the right and fired at goal but Hugo Lloris was alert to the danger and turned the ball over the bar.