LONDON: Lionel Messi’s first goal in nine European games against Chelsea secured a workmanlike Barcelona a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge in their Champions League second round first leg.
The night’s other tie saw Germany champions Bayern Munich virtually secure their place in the quarters-finals with a 5-0 home thrashing of a Besiktas side who had to play 75 minutes with 10 men. Bayern’s goals flowed from Thomas Muller (two), Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski (two) after Domagoj Vida, the Turks’ Croatia defender, was sent off.
Man of the match in west London was Brazilian forward Willian who struck both posts before shooting Chelsea in front in the 62nd minute. An unlucky 13 minutes later sloppy defending by Chelsea and a mistake by Andreas Christensen provided the space for Messi to strike an equaliser which makes Barcelona odds-on favourites to progress from the second leg in Camp Nou.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said: “We paid dearly for one mistake because we were very close to playing the perfect game but, against this quality of opponent, if you make a mistake you pay.
“At the end of the game we are disappointed with the final result but, at the same time, this game must give us a lot of confidence to trust that, in the second leg, qualification is open.
“It won’t be easy, we must be realistic because we are talking about Barcelona, and they showed they are a fantastic, strong team tonight. But we showed, too, that if we work very hard together defensively, but at the same time win the ball and create the chances to score, we can try to do something incredible at Nou Camp.”
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was a satisfied man, saying: “Chelsea might be happy with the result and we have to be respectful of their style of play. They pressed us very high and made life difficult for us. The away goal was not definitive but it was significant.”