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Sensational Lionel Messi dumps Chelsea out of Champions League

Lionel Messi scored his 100th Champions League goal to help Barcelona to a 3-0 victory over Chelsea at the Camp Nou this evening, sealing his side’s place in the quarter-finals of the competition for a record-extending 11th successive year.

Messi had given his side the slight advantage with an away goal in last month’s first leg at Stamford Bridge, and he was once again instrumental with two more goals and an assist to seal a 4-1 aggregate triumph.

The 30-year-old’s first of the night arrived after less than three minutes, and his second just past the hour mark killed the tie off having teed up Ousmane Dembele’s first Barcelona goal in the meantime.

Chelsea will feel harshly done by having had the better of things for much of the match despite the scoreline, but they were ultimately punished for individual errors by a ruthless Barcelona side who will now be among the favourites going into Friday’s quarter-final draw.

Blues boss Antonio Conte handed a start to Olivier Giroud as Alvaro Morata was once again left on the bench, while Barcelona were able to welcome stalwarts Andres Iniesta and Messi back into their starting lineups.

The latter had missed the weekend win over Malaga for the birth of his third child, but he quickly made up for lost time by breaking the deadlock after just 128 seconds – the fastest goal of his illustrious career.

The Argentine – who ended his goalless record against Chelsea at the ninth attempt in the first leg – got a stroke of luck when his original attempt at a one-two fell kindly for Luis Suarez, who immediately played his strike partner in down the right flank. The angle was against Messi, but he managed to sneak his effort between the legs of Thibaut Courtois, who should have done better at his near post.

It was a nightmare start for Chelsea, but they responded well and almost pulled a goal back after 12 minutes when Willian’s low strike drew a smart save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

However, just as the visitors were beginning to build their confidence Barcelona hit them with a devastating counter-attack, with Messi this time turning provider having stolen possession off former teammate Cesc Fabregas on the halfway line.

Messi went on to skip past Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta before laying a square ball across the area for Dembele, who buried an unerring finish into the top corner for his first Barcelona goal.

Barcelona soon began to dominate possession and almost added a third shortly before the half-hour mark when a fine team move ended with Iniesta back-heeling the ball into the path of Suarez, who was thwarted by Courtois from close range.

Gerard Pique was then inches away from getting on the end of a dangerous Messi free kick, but Chelsea did soon begin to fight their way back into the match as they refused to go down with a whimper.

As was the case in the first leg, Willian looked the most likely to make something happen for the Blues, and his dart down the left flank set up Marcos Alonso, who could only fire straight at Ter Stegen from inside the area.

Seconds later Chelsea created an even better chance when N’Golo Kante skipped between two defenders on his way into the box, but he then stole the ball off the toe of the better-placed Fabregas and dragged his effort wide of the far post.

The visitors continued to push for a goal back before half time, and they almost got it with the final meaningful action of the opening 45 minutes when Alonso saw his free kick clip the outside of the post with Ter Stegen beaten.

The first half was a story of Chelsea being punished for two mistakes, and they almost shot themselves in the foot at the start of the second half too when Courtois gifted the ball straight to Suarez, only to this time redeem himself by keeping out the striker’s subsequent shot.

Conte’s side were soon back on the front foot, though, and it took a last-ditch challenge from Dembele to deny Alonso a chance before the Chelsea full-back saw a penalty appeal turned down having got the wrong side of Pique.

The scoreline was harsh on a Chelsea side who were playing well, but Barcelona’s ruthlessness in front of goal had been the difference and that proved to be the case again shortly after the hour mark when Messi killed the tie off with his second of the night and his 100th in the Champions League.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner picked the ball up from Suarez before tearing past two defenders and once again sliding his finish between the legs of Courtois, becoming only the second player to reach triple figures in the Champions League, and doing so in 14 games fewer than his perennial adversary Cristiano Ronaldo managed.

The game may have been over as a contest, but Messi’s search for his hat-trick was not and he tested Courtois again with a free kick which took a slight deflection off Willian before being palmed behind by the Chelsea keeper.

Paulinho then threatened a fourth with five minutes of normal time remaining when he was left unmarked from a corner and forced Courtois into another save with a firm header.

Chelsea’s performance deserved a goal and they almost got it late on when first Davide Zappacosta was denied by Ter Stegen, before Antonio Rudiger planted a header against the crossbar in the final minute of normal time.

That was the fourth time that Chelsea had hit the woodwork over the two legs, leaving the Blues to rue what might have been, but they were made to pay for their profligacy as Barcelona made it 25 Champions League home games without defeat – including 19 wins from their last 20.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have now lost five successive away games across all competitions for the first time since December 2000 and must now focus on earning their place in next season’s Champions League via the Premier League, with four points currently separating them from the top four.

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