Four-goal Messi stuns Arsenal

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Barcelona 4 Arsenal 1 (Barcelona win 6-3 on aggregate)

Lionel Messi lived up to his billing as the best player in the world with four goals to end Arsenal's Champions League dream in the Nou Camp.

Nicklas Bendtner had fired the Gunners into a shock lead on 18 minutes. However, Messi soon drew Barcelona level after capitalising on a mistake by Mikael Silvestre.

The Argentina forward then added a second from close range before dashing clear to make it 3-1 on the night just before the break, and grabbed a fourth with three minutes left to complete a comfortable 6-3 aggregate victory for the tournament holders.

Arsene Wenger's injury-hit squad - without the likes of captain Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin and Alex Song - must now regroup and focus on overhauling Chelsea and Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League title race.

Arsenal, playing in their white change kit, looked determined not to be overrun as they had during the opening exchanges of the first leg.

Barcelona, however, created an couple of chances when Xavi, captain for the night in the absence of suspended Carles Puyol, flicked the ball wide before Messi fired an angled shot just over the bar in a sign of things to come.

The English side, though, snatched a shock lead on their first real chance after 18 minutes.

Theo Walcott was put clear by Abou Diaby down the right, and he dashed into the Barca penalty area before squaring to Bendtner.

Victor Valdes made a good reaction save, but the in-form Denmark striker was quick to stab the rebound into the net and put the English team ahead in the tie for the first time.

The Gunners then wasted another chance of a breakaway, as Diaby pushed the ball left to Bendtner when Walcott was in space on the right.

It proved a costly error as Barcelona went up the other end to equalise on 21 minutes.

Silvestre, in the side ahead of veteran Sol Campbell who was not fully fit, failed to clear the ball on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area - and Messi needed no second invitation, lashing his shot into the top right corner.

Messi continued to torment Arsenal as he collected the ball on the right touchline before weaving into the box and drilling a shot into the side netting.

Arsenal were again punished by Messi for some poor defending as Barcelona went 2-1 ahead on 37 minutes.

Eric Abidal crossed the ball into the Arsenal box from the right, which was cut out by Thomas Vermaelen. However, his team-mates were slow to react as Pedro knocked the loose ball out to Messi - and he smashed it past Almunia.

The Argentina international completed a stunning hat-trick four minutes before the break when he latched onto a header from Abidal to race clear before dispatching a brilliant chip over the Arsenal keeper.

Messi nearly had another at the start of the second half when Pedro whipped a low ball across the Arsenal six-yard box from the right, which was just too far ahead of the Barcelona forward.

Arsenal had little choice but to go forwards, but that left the visitors exposed at the back.

The visitors nearly found away through when Diaby stabbed the ball to Bendtner just inside the Barcelona box, but the Denmark striker was hustle out of possession before he could shoot.

Then when left-back Gael Clichy broke and fed Bendtner, the home defence again got back in numbers to clear.

Diaby's low ball across the edge of the Barcelona box went all the way through to Tomas Rosicky, but the Czech snatched at his shot, which flew harmlessly wide.

Messi's clever quick free-kick released Pedro, but his angled chip was off target, before at the other end Bendtner's header crashed against the post - but the offside flag was up.

With 18 minutes left, Wenger sent on Eduardo for Rosicky, with Samir Nasri moving out to the left in a 4-4-2.

Clichy knocked Alves off the ball to charge forwards, but, with team-mates well placed, drilled an ambitious shot over from 20 yards.

Maxwell forced Almunia into a good save at his near post after cutting into the right side of the Arsenal penalty area.

Messi then completed a fine night's work with another well-taken goal three minutes from time as the holders marched on towards a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn