Champions League takeaways: The razor’s edge of victory, defeat

Lionel-Messi

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, celebrates scoring against Chelsea. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)

Here’s what happened in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, in case you missed it…

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Chelsea 1, FC Barcelona 1: Match report || Scoresheet
Bayern Munich 5, Besiktas 0: Match report || Scoresheet

WHAT STOOD OUT

A pair of game changing moments
Soccer is a sport of skill, but it’s also a sport of mistakes, where errors are ruthlessly capitalized upon. The complexion of games can be completely altered due to a lack of execution, or a simple misstep. So it came to pass in both of Tuesday’s matches in the Champions League.

Besiktas had it all to do ahead of their visit to Germany, where mighty Bayern Munich awaited them. The Turks managed to get off to a bright start, but then things turned in the 16th minute when Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson made a sloppy back pass deep inside his half. Besiktas defender Domagoj Vida had few other options to bring down Robert Lewandowksi as the Polish international broke in on goal for the Bundesliga outfit.

Reduced to 10 men, the Turkish side put forth a brave effort, and only trailed 1-0 after 45 minutes, but their resistance quickly wilted and the floodgates opened, as Bayern exploded for four goals in the second half, effectively settling this round of 16 series after the opening leg.

Chelsea will be kicking themselves after letting what would have been a famous victory slip through their hands at Stamford Bridge. The London club managed to outplay Barcelona in the first half, even though the Catalans dominated possession. Willian’s goal in the 62nd minute was just reward for a Chelsea side that was well-organized in defence and prevented Barca from registering a single shot on target through the opening 45 minutes – something no team has managed to do against the Spanish giants in the Champions League since February, 2016.

But one moment of madness managed to undo all of Chelsea’s hard work on the night. A wayward Andreas Christensen pass played across his box, a second of hesitation from Cesc Fabregas, and a gamble by Cesar Azpilicueta was all Barcelona needed. From there, the sublime Andres Iniesta picked out Lionel Messi, who hammered home his shot to score his first-ever Champions League goal against Chelsea in nine appearances. The entire sequence lasted only a few seconds, but Barcelona was level on terms. Instead of returning home looking to avenge a loss, the Catalans have the advantage thanks to the road goal rule.

The margin between winning and losing is razor thin sometimes. It’s a lesson that Besiktas and Chelsea learned the hard way on Tuesday night.

BEST GOAL OF THE DAY

After twice hitting the post in the first half, Willian finally came good with a spectacular effort in the 62nd minute to give Chelsea the lead. Eden Hazard picked out an unmarked Willian at the top of the box, and the Brazilian unleashed a driving, curling shot that nestled into the lower left corner past a sprawling Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

BEST MOMENT OF THE DAY

Is there anything more enjoyable in soccer than watching Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrate his team scoring a goal?

BEST TWEET OF THE DAY

Spanish media outlet AS went “old school” in heralding Willian’s precise strike for Chelsea:

HE SAID IT

“We have to go there to attack and score because 90 minutes defending at the Nou Camp is an eternity. It is a suicide mission.” – Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

THE GAME WITHIN THE GAME

Barcelona dominated possession and dictated the pace of the first half at Stamford Bridge, but it went into the break without registering a shot on target. Part of the reason why is because Luis Suarez wasn’t nearly involved enough, especially in and around the penalty area.

BURNING QUESTION OF THE DAY

SIX PACK OF STATS

• Andres Iniesta has assisted Lionel Messi for 12 goals in the Champions League, more than any other Barcelona player.
• Bayern Munich has won 14 consecutive games in all competitions, equaling their longest winning streak of all-time (from 1980).
• Messi has scored at least one goal in exactly half of his appearances in the Champions League (61 games scored in, 122 appearances).
• Bayern Munich are unbeaten in 62 competitive matches in which Thomas Muller has scored (with 59 wins and three draws).
• Messi has scored more Champions League goals (18) versus English teams than any other player.
• Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman has scored two goals in his last three Champions League games, as many goals as in his first 15 matches.
Stats courtesy of Opta

THREE STARS

1) Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich: The Polish international recorded a hat trick and set up another goal as the Bavarians crushed 10-man Besiktas.
2) Thomas Muller, Bayern Munich: Bagged a brace and collected an assist on Lewandowski’s third goal.
3) Willian, Chelsea: The Brazilian was the midfield engine for Chelsea with his probing runs and constant closing down of Barca’s players. Scored the opener, too.

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