CL: Messi, Neymar, Suarez score as Barcelona thump Arsenal to enter quarters
Madrid: FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar scored one goal each to give the reigning European Champions a 3-1 win and a 5-1 aggregate win over Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (L) celebrates his goal with Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (C) and Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar (R) during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg football match FC Barcelona vs Arsenal FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. Pic/AFP
The win means Barca have reached the last eight of the competition for the last 9 years, while Arsenal have fallen at the last 16 stage for every year since the 2010-11 season, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
Barcelona fielded their strongest available side with Jeremy Mathieu in for the suspended Gerard Pique, while Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger surprisingly included 19-year-old midfielder Alex Iwobi in his side along with Egyptian, Mohamed Elneny.
Leo Messi had already given Arsenal a warning on 16 minutes when he took Neymar's deep pass before drawing a miraculous save from David Ospina, but the Colombian goalkeeper could do nothing two minutes later when Neymar opened the scoring.
Luis Suarez gave a diagonal pass which allowed the Brazilian to get in behind the Arsenal defense and make the aggregate score 3-0 with a low finish.
Barca had the control of the ball and although Arsenal defended well, the impression was of a side playing 'cat and mouse' with their rival, although Iwobi showed drive with a shot over the crossbar.
Arsenal came into the game in the last five minutes of the first half, but despite causing a few nervous moments for the Barca defense, they failed to draw a save out of Ter Stegen.
Stegen still had not made a save in the 51st minute when Elneny gave Arsenal hope with a lovely goal from outside of the area which gave the Barca keeper no chance.
Messi responded with a diagonal shot following a Neymar backheel which Ospina did well to save, while at the other end a desperate block from Javier Mascherano stopped Danny Welback's goal-bound shot.
Suarez put Barca's qualification beyond doubt with a spectacular volley in the 65th minute. The Uruguayan, who was one wanted by Arsenal, managed to get his foot around a Dani Alves cross to leave Ospina helpless.