Messi muzzled as Lyon hold Barcelona
Olympique Lyonnais kept Lionel Messi quiet as they held FC Barcelona to a goalless draw in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg to give themselves a fighting chance of reaching the last eight.
Tuesday, 19 February
UEFA Champions League, Last 16, first leg
Groupama Stadium, Lyon
Olympique Lyonnais 0-0 FC Barcelona
Without suspended captain Nabil Fekir, Lyon might have been concerned they would like the firepower to trouble the visitors, the only team — along with OL — to go through the group stage unbeaten.
Hossem Aouar's early shot that forced a first save from Marc-André ter Stegen (5') eased those concerns; Martin Terrier — a surprise inclusion in the hosts' starting line-up — then called the Germany international goalkeeper into still more serious action with a stinging volley that Ter Stegen turned onto his crossbar (9') after Moussa Dembélé's intelligent knockdown.
It was Barcelona who dominated possession though, yet the La Liga giants could not find a cutting edge. Messi fired wide (17') before ex-Stade Rennais man Ousmane Dembélé gave Anthony Lopes his first job of the evening in keeping out a low drive (19').
With 11 goals conceded this season, no team left in the competition has shipped more than Lyon, but they kept their esteemed guests at bay until Dembélé (44') and Sergio Busquets (45+1') both went close just before the break.
At the opposite end, Terrier had shot over (44') and Memphis Depay sent the ball fizzing just wide (53') as Bruno Genesio's men continued to believe they could do to Barça what they did to Manchester City in the group stage.
They did manage to hold the Spanish champions just as they had done the English ones, but Lopes was required to do that.
He beat away a Messi shot at his near post (65') and then denied Philippe Coutinho (76') before he watched Luis Suarez, who has not scored in more than 24 hours of football away from home in the competition, send a half-volley spinning past the target (77').
Lopes had the last word, making another save to push a Busquets' effort over his bar to give the seven-time French title winners a fighting chance in the return leg at the Camp Nou on 13 March.
THE PLAYER: Anthony Lopes
Barcelona had 16 shots, five of which Lopes had to get something on to prevent the visitors claiming a potentially decisive away goal. The Portugal international did to add another five-star display in what has been a spectacular season so far.
THE STAT: 0
No goals, and — still — no defeats for either side in the competition this season. That will change in Catalonia…