Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal (agg: 5-1)
Neymar, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi were all on target as the holders reached the last eight for the ninth season running.
Overcoming a 2-0 deficit at the Camp Nou was always a daunting prospect, but Neymar’s 18th-minute opener effectively killed the tie off. Laurent Koscielny was at fault, caught in possession as he tried to dribble out of defence. Barcelona were on it in a flash. Suárez collected the ball and found Neymar with time and space to fire in.
For a spell the fight left Arsenal, who had begun brightly even if they were indebted to a fantastic stop from David Ospina to deny Lionel Messi just before the opener. Barcelona attacked with trademark alacrity, but as the half wore on and Alex Iwobi – on his first start in the competition – lively there were chances, too, at the other end.
Analysis from Graham Hunter at the Camp Nou
Key Man: Luis Suárez
There were candidates. A host of them. Bronze probably goes to David Ospina, whose save from Messi in the first half was as good as you will see this season. Perhaps a tie between Neymar and Alexis for silver. But Luis Suárez is at the top of the podium. Besides his usual tireless work there was a first-class assist for Neymar and then, as Arsenal threatened, a Herculean mid-air volley.
Long before the result was settled Arsène Wenger’s side provided a tactical template for how teams – at least the elite clubs remaining in this competition – could test the reigning champions. They pressed high and kept a quick tempo, hustling and hassling without the ball and always quick to pass and move with it. Given their injuries, there were positives for Arsenal – and maybe others.
Barcelona’s competitive spirit
Before last season’s final, Luis Enrique told me that he felt the most important part of what would be a trophy treble had been the competitive atmosphere every day in training. At the weekend he said, “It doesn’t matter who I turn to in my player group, whoever plays is competitive.” Exhibit 1: Jérémy Mathieu. In for the suspended Gerard Piqué, he played with calm, authority and made two goal-saving blocks.