Barcelona trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar Jr combined to send Arsenal packing from the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League campaign with a 3-1 victory in Tuesday’s second leg tie to qualify with a 5-1 aggregate following a 2-0 first leg win at the Emirates.
Neymar’s goal 20 minutes into an entertaining first half extended Barcelona’s lead in the tie to 3-0 on aggregate, giving Arsenal a mountain to climb in the second half but the Gunners fought hard and were rewarded with an equalizer six minutes after the break.
An acrobatic finish from Luis Suarez five minutes after the hour mark and a fantastic chip over Ospina by Messi with two minutes left on the clock settled matters at Camp Nou as the Catalans won 4-1 on aggregate to secure a quarter final slot, dumping the Gunners out of the continental competition.
Arsène Wenger made six changes to his side for Arsenal’s Champions League last-16 second leg clash at Barcelona. Alex Iwobi is given his first start in the tournament, while Laurent Koscielny makes his return from a calf injury.
Elsewhere, Danny Welbeck replaced Olivier Giroud as the central striker and Mathieu Flamini was given the nod in midfield next to Mohamed Elneny ahead of Francis Coquelin.
For the home side, their form couldn’t be better, coming into the match on the back of a club record 37-game unbeaten streak, and they haven’t been beaten at home since February 2015.
As expected, World Footballer of the Year Lionel Messi started up front with Neymar and Luis Suarez. Messi scored both goals in the first leg, and netted six times in his two previous appearances against Arsenal on Spanish soil.
In an entertaining encounter, in which both teams had plenty of chances, it was the clinical finishing of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi which proved to be the difference.
Neymar got the ball rolling when he slotted home on 20 minutes to make it 3-0 on aggregate.
Mohamed Elneny’s first goal in Arsenal colours early in the second half threatened to spark the unlikeliest of comebacks, but Barcelona extinguished those hopes when Suarez volleyed home into the top corner.
Danny Welbeck later hit the woodwork, and Alexis Sanchez had a free-kick clawed away by Andre ter Stegen, but Barcelona – and not surprisingly Messi – had the last word when he deftly lifted the ball over David Ospina for the third.
Its a result that will be tough Arsene Wenger’s men who must now regroup for the trip to Everton for the early Saturday kick-off in the Premier League.