Messi leads Barca into Champions League quarters

AP , Wednesday 9 Mar 2011

Lionel Messi scored twice and Barcelona took advantage of Robin Van Persie’s ejection to beat Arsenal 3-1 Tuesday night and reach the Champions League quarterfinals on 4-3 aggregate

Lionel Messi

Messi scored in the third minute of first-half injury time when he was played clear into the area by Andres Iniesta, then flicked up and over onrushing goalkeeper Manuel Almunia before volleying the ball into the net.

Despite being outshot 19-0 in the game, Arsenal tied the score 1-1 when Barcelona defender Sergio Busquets headed Samir Nasri’s corner kick into his own net in the 53rd.

Van Persie received his second yellow card in the 56th, assessed by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca for time wasting. The Dutch forward motioned that he shot because he didn’t hear the whistle due to noise from the crowd of 95,486.

Xavi Hernandez tied the aggregate score 13 minutes later on a shot that deflected off an Arsenal player, collecting the ball after David Villa guided Iniesta’s short pass onto his path.

Messi then converted a penalty kick in the 71st after Pedro Rodriguez was fouled by Laurent Koscielny. Messi has 45 goals this season and a Barcelona-record 33 in European competition, two more than Rivaldo. He leads the Champions League with eight goals this season.

Barcelona had 68 percent possession and completed 738 passes to Arsenal’s 199. But the Gunners had one late chance

With Arsenal needing only to score once to tie the aggregate and win on the away-goals rule, substitute Nicklas Bendtner’s late run on goal was thwarted by Javier Mascherano as the Gunners were eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona for the second straight season.

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