Lionel Messi came up just short of matching Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick a day earlier but still scored twice and set up two more as Barcelona beat Lyon 5-1 on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
After Ronaldo’s treble on Tuesday for Juventus sent Atletico Madrid packing in Turin, Messi delivered his own symphony at the Camp Nou, where Lyon were outplayed save for a very brief period in the second half when they threatened a comeback in this last-16 tie.
there were some nervy moments for Barca in the second half after Lucas Tousart made it 2-1 but with Messi so focused in Europe the home side were always likely to advance at Camp Nou.
He was sublime right from the start as he had a shot saved in the fourth minute after a good Barca move. He opened the scoring with a cheeky Panenka-style penalty after Jason Denayer clipped Suarez in the box.
Barca looked in control when their two former Liverpool players linked up for a second goal, Coutinho – who was booed by his own fans in Saturday’s win over Rayo Vallecano – tapping home from Suarez’s pass.
At that stage the La Liga leaders looked in control, but Tousart gave them a fright when he volleyed home after Sergio Busquets’ poor headed clearance.
But Messi stepped up when his team needed him, running 30 yards and stepping inside two defenders – including sending Marcelo to the ground – before firing past substitute keeper Mathieu Gorgelin, who should have done better. He scored once more, before teeing up Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele to complete the victory.
It was the 31st time he has scored at least two goals in a Champions League game. The Argentine is this season’s joint top scorer on eight with eliminated Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.
Barca go into Friday’s draw for the last eight as the sole Spanish representative, along with Juventus, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Porto and Ajax.
The last time Spain only had one team left at this stage of the competition was 2010 and after Atletico Madrid’s exit to Juventus on Tuesday, Barca needed to win to avoid the first Spanish black-out in the quarter-finals since 2005.
Messi now has 108 goals in the Champions League, behind Ronaldo’s imperious 124, but his latest double takes his team one step closer to the trophy they crave the most. He made it 3-1 when fed by Ivan Rakitic, turning Marcelo and Denayer before beating the goalkeeper Mathieu Gorgelin, who had replaced the injured Anthony Lopes in the first half.
Messi then tasked himself with creating. First of all he produced a sublime assist for Gerard Pique and then he set up substitute Ousmane Dembele. Barca are into the last eight for the 12th season running.
Coutinho had been whistled off by his own fans last weekend but was picked to start, preferred to Dembele who had just recovered from a hamstring strain. World Cup winner Nabil Fekir started for Lyon, having served a suspension in the first leg.
Lyon could barely escape their own penalty area in early exchanges as Messi got to work. He fired one shot towards the top corner and then latched onto a Sergio Busquets pass but Anthony Lopes sprung out to intercept.
There are still some tough sides left in, though. England are represented by four sides, including Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus showed they mean business on Tuesday.
But Barça, with Messi, remain in the competition as they look to win their first European Cup since 2015.