Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal (5-1 agg): Holders knock Gunners out of Champions League
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 17/03/16 10:50am
Arsenal's Champions League hopes were extinguished as goals from Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi sent the Gunners to a 3-1 defeat at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night.
It was a bit too little, too late for the Gunners who mostly played well in the round of 16 second leg tie, but were outdone by Barca's potent attacking trio to lose 5-1 on aggregate.
The Catalans added to their 2-0 first leg advantage with a simple first half strike from the Brazilian, before Mohamed Elneny scored his first Arsenal goal to give the visitors a glimmer of hope.
But Suarez struck a stunning volley with 25 minutes to play, before his Argentinian team-mate added the third of the evening late on to see Barcelona into the quarter-finals.
Arsenal started the game on the front foot, and forced clearances from the Barcelona defence as Mesut Ozil tried to play in Danny Welback and Alexis Sanchez hit a low shot across the box with no red shirt there to convert.
But it didn't take long for the current Champions League holders to show their class, as Lionel Messi picked out Suarez and the striker was ready to open fire - but the linesman's flag was eventually raised for offside.
The Gunners kept pushing as Ozil sent a curling effort towards goal from 25 yards that just whistled wide of the post. An Elneny effort from the same distance caused Marc-Andre ter Stegen to dive for the ball that eventually skimmed his upright.
It was David Ospina who was called into action next as he made a fantastic save to keep out Messi's effort - although he could do nothing about the goal that came almost immediately after.
It all looked relatively easy for Barcelona as Suarez played in a lovely pass for Neymar, who made no mistake in coolly slotting the ball past the Arsenal goalkeeper to put the hosts ahead.
However, the remainder of the first half saw a plethora of chances for the visitors, and the impressive Alex Iwobi could have won a penalty after being tugged down in the area by Javier Mascherano - but the referee waved away the claims.
The second half saw Sanchez and Iwobi linking up as the teenager rifled a low shot into the side of the net and the Arsenal pressure paid off six minutes after the restart.
Sanchez was again involved as he cut the ball back for Elneny, who hit the ball first time and fired it past the leaping Ter Stegen into the top corner.
And the Gunners could have added another not long after, as Welbeck raced onto a poor clearance from Mathieu and cut inside Mascherano before letting fly, but the former Liverpool man was there to make the much needed block.
But for all of the Arsenal chances, it was Barcelona who got the important third goal of the game with a stunner from Suarez who scored for the 17th time in 14 games.
Dani Alves put in a sublime cross to the striker in the middle of the box, and he went for the spectacular with a flying volley that rocketed past a stunned Gunners defence to further put the tie out of their reach.
The game was wide open from that point, as Welbeck hit the crossbar before Ivan Rakitic fired over from the edge of the area.
Arsenal were again denied by some great defending from the Catalans as Ter Stegen made two stunning saves from Sanchez's pinpoint free-kick and Olivier Giroud's rebounded effort, before Mascherano headed a Theo Walcott attempt off the line.
But Messi put the final nail in the coffin in the 88th minute, lifting the ball over Ospina to make it nine goals against Arsenal in the Champions League - more than any other player against a single opponent.