PARIS: Half a game from Lionel Messi was enough to point Barcelona a long way down the road to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
The Argentinian was withdrawn with a hamstring strain at half-time against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their 2-2 draw. But seven minutes earlier he had opened the scoring with yet another fine goal and, even if he is not fit for next week’s return in Nou Camp, he had contributed mightily to the tie’s likely outcome.
PSG, with David Beckham starting in midfield, made a bright start and once hit the post. But Barcelona then took over with their passing game and Messi put them ahead after slicing in from the left to covert and perfect out-of-the-foot angled cross from Dani Alves.
Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic appeared badly out of touch as PSG sought to raise the pace in the second half. But though he missed badly once luck was on his side in the 80th minute when the officials missed an offside call and allowed to level after a Thiago Silva header had thudded back off a post.
Barcelona, stung, regained the lead through a Xavi penalty in the 89th after PSG Salvatore Sirigu tripped Alexis Sanchez. But Blaise Matuidi equaised again, with the last kick, after his low drive was deflected the wrong side of keeper Victor Vades by substitute centre-back Bartra.
The night’s other quarter-final opener saw Bayern Munich defeat Juventus 2-0 in a duel of the German and Italian league leaders. David Alaba and Thomas Muller scored the goals.