Highlights: Barcelona 3-0 Bayern Munich; Messi shines on 100th European appearance
Lionel Messi brace and Neymar's late goal give Barcelona a heavy advantage in the Champions League semis
On a night when Lionel Messi was making his 100th European appearance, Barcelona humbled Bayern Munich 3-0 at the Camp Nou in the first leg of the semi-final. Messi scored a brace and Neymar rounded off the scoring late in the game as Barca put one foot in the final of the Champions League. Pep Guardiola’s return to the Camp Nou ended in heartbreak for the former manager as Luis Enrique had the last laugh on the night.
The home side started the match brighter of the two as they kept on creating chance after chance as Barca enjoyed a gala time due to Pep Guardiola playing 3 at the back. Bayern had Manuel Neuer to thank for keeping the scoreline untroubled. Luis Suarez missed the easiest of the early chances when he found himself one-on-one with the German. However, despite his red-hot streak, Suarez was unable to outsmart Neuer. Neymar was found free on goal by the Uruguayan moments later, but he could not connect with the ball cleanly and the ball went wide off the post.
After the first 15 minutes, the former Barcelona manager put Rafinha in his natural right back position and Bayern got better once they switched to a 4-3-3. Robert Lewandowski missed a glorious chance to give the Bundesliga champions an unlikely lead when he failed to put Thomas Muller’s cross in the goal. The first half finished goalless with both sides having chances to trouble the score.
The second half began on the same note as the first with Barcelona pushing forward for the crucial opening goal. However, it looked like due to Neuer’s presence, who stood in front of Bayern’s goal like the Berlin wall, the Germans would leave Camp Nou with a clean sheet. He made a couple of saves from Messi and Suarez in the first 20 minutes of the second 45.
Messi was not to be denied a goal on his 100th European appearance after Dani Alves robbed Juan Bernat off the ball on the right flank. The Brazilian went past 2 Bayern players like they weren’t there and passed it to Messi on the edge of the box. The Argentinian’s powerful drive beat Neuer on his near post to give the home side the lead in the 77th minute.
Messi took just 3 more minutes to get his 77th Champions League goal when he dribbled past Jerome Boateng with ease and chipped the ball over Neuer. Neymar made things worse for Bayern in stoppage time when he was left one-on-one with Neuer, but unlike Suarez, the Brazilian found the back of the net. Bayern now have a mountain to climb to avoid a second consecutive semi-final exit. The away side had no shot on target in the match.