|24. (52’)||9. (41’)|
Alexis double downs Leverkusen
Alexis Sanchez scored a brace as Barcelona recorded a 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie at the Bay Arena.
The 23-year-old scored a goal in each half before Lionel Messi added the third in the final minutes of the game, while Michal Kadlec scored the only goal for the home side.
Barcelona dominated possession from the first whistle with Bayer Leverkusen choosing to keep all their players in the own half.
The plan seemed to be working for them as they forced Barcelona to knock the ball around without any real penetration but in the 13th minute Alexis managed to break through on the right.
The Chilean then tried to play the ball across for Messi, but Daniel Schwabb was able to intercept the pass with a well-timed sliding tackle.
Then in the 25th minute Andres Iniesta played a diagonal ball towards Adriano Correia on the left; the Brazilian cut inside to switch the ball to his right foot but his curled effort went high and wide of the far post.
The Catalans continued have a go at the Leverkusen defence and they were eventually rewarded four minutes before the break when Messi played a brilliant pass into the open space on the right towards Alexis and Cesc Fabregas.
Alexis got to the ball first and raced past one defender before firing the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs and into the back of the net to give the visitors a deserved lead going into the break.
The home side came back from the recess with more purpose and started to add number into their attack and they were soon rewarded in the 52nd minute when Barcelona failed to clear an aerial ball inside the penalty area.
The ball eventually fell for Verdan Corluka on the right, who then played a perfect cross for defender Kadlec to head home at the far post.
However, Barcelona restored their lead just three minutes later when Fabregas played a brilliant through-pass towards Alexis, who then partly-rounded the goalkeeper before slotting the ball in from an angle.
Leverkusen almost registered a quick reply in the 57th minute but Renato Augusto saw his low shot being saved by Victor Valdes, while Gonzalo Castro’s strike crashed against the upright seven minutes later.
Messi was unlucky not to extend lead in the 73rd minute when he ran past three defenders and managed to get the ball over goalkeeper Leno, but his shot brushed the outside of the post.
The German-side came close to netting the equalizer yet again four minutes later when Castro picked out Stefan Kiessling in the centre of the penalty area; the substitute did well to get his header on target but Valdes was able to make the save.
Alexis Sanchez thought he had completed his hat-trick in the 84th minute when he connected with a Pedro corner, but his glancing header drew a brilliant save from Leno, while Busquets was seconds late from bundling the rebound in.
The victory was sealed in the 88th minute when Messi released Dani Alves on the right; the Brazilian could’ve taken a shot but opted to square the ball back for Messi to finish with a diving volley.