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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019


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Good evening folks and welcome to our midweek liveblog. The action tonight comes from Catalunya, where the world’s best side host German outfit Bayer Leverkusen.

Pep Guardiola’s team hold a 3-1 aggregate lead from the first leg so realistically it will take a miracle of biblical proportions for the visitors to progress to the quarter-finals. Stranger are things have happened though so be sure to stick around.

The teams have been announced so let’s start by getting them out of the way…

Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano, Busquets, Xavi (c), Iniesta, Fabregas, Messi, Pedro. Subs: Pinto, Muniesa, Bartra, Keita, Sergi Roberto, Tello, Cuenca.

Bayer Leverkusen:  Leno (c), Schawaab, Reinartz, Omer Toprak, Kadlec, Castro, Rolfes, Bender, Augusto, Kiessling, Derdiyok. Subs: Giefer, Oczipka, Friedrich, Ortega, Zenga, Bellarabi, Schurrle.

In case you’ve forgotten how the first leg went, here’s the 90 minutes nicely broken down into two and a half.

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There’s been an early goal in the FA Cup fifth round replay at White Hart Lane. And it’s Stevenage who have taken the lead as Joel Byrom scores from the spot.

Gary Smith for England manager anyone?

Lionel Messi has got seven from six in this year’s competition and 28 goals from 29 Champions League appearances. The signs are ominous for Leverkusen. Let’s hope they can pinch an early lead to make a game of it.

Teams are shaking hands. We’re about to kick-off.

Dani Alves putting himself under unnecessary pressure there as he attempts to run the ball across his own goal while being chased by Stefan Kiessling. Manages to eventually clear but Leverkusen have started at a high tempo.

Barca win a free-kick 20 yards out and both Xavi and Messi stand over it. The Spaniard has a go but his effort clips the top of the wall en route to goal. After a short corner is taken, Cesc Fabregas is (wrongly) ruled offside.

GOAL! APOEL Nicosia (1) 1-0 (1) Lyon (Manduca)

The home side square up the tie nine minutes in as Brazilian striker Gustavo Manduca heads home a cross from Constantinos Charalambides.

A super little dinked ball by Xavi plays Messi in and Bernd Leno has to make the block. When the ball finds its way to the feet of Pedro seven yards out, the visitors have their defence to thank for not conceding what looked a certain goal as they throw their bodies on the line.

Barcelona beginning to turn the screw in search of their first of the night and it looks as if it is only a matter of time before they make the breakthrough. 20 minutes in and still no goals though.

In the meantime, Spurs have drawn level through Jermain Defoe with a tremendous finish from Danny Rose’s ball. 1-1 in that one.

Gerard Pique ducks to get his head onto a Xavi free-kick and if does, the touch is minimal. Leno stretches to pull off another great save.

GOAL! Barcelona (4) 1-0 (1) Bayer Leverkusen (Lionel Messi)

All too predictable but it doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Xavi and Messi combine again to leave the Argentinian through on goal with only the keeper to beat. He tries what has become a trademark chip to lift the ball over the shoulder of Leno and into the net.

Leno watches Messi’s first fly by him Credit: Manu Fernandez/AP/Press Association Images

GOAL! Barcelona (5) 2-0 (1) Bayer Leverkusen (Lionel Messi)

There’s No51. Iniesta is the provider this time and Lessi skips inside a couple of challenges before finding the bottom corner.

Half-time: Barcelona (5) 2-0 (1) Bayer Leverkusen

It  remains 1-0 (1-1 on agg) in APOEL’s GSP Stadium at the break, while it’s Spurs 1-1 Stevenage in their FA Cup replay.

Couple of minutes to go before play restarts so while I go put the kettle on, you can treat yourself to the second goal of the night.

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And we’re back. Messia and Fabregas get us going again. We’re expecting more goals from the home side before this is out.

Intricate passing move between Iniesta, Xavi and Messi goes out for a corner, which comes to nothing.

GOAL! Barcelona (6) 3-0 (1) Bayer Leverkusen (Lionel Messi)

We need to dedicate a liveblog completely to the exploits of Leo Messi. It takes him just 50 minutes to complete a hat-trick with the best finish of the three. This time he goes for a lob with his right foot. Incredible.

GOAL! Barcelona (7) 4-0 (1) Bayer Leverkusen (Tello)

Guardiola withdraws Xavi and Iniesta for Seydou Keita and Tello.  Eren Derdiyok isn’t far away with an acute effort before he comes off for Karim Bellarabi and Lars Bender makes way for Andre Schurrle.

Tello’s first involvement is to score. On his Champions League debut.

GOAL! Barcelona (8) 5-0 (1) Bayer Leverkusen (Lionel Messi)

This is getting ridiculous. Messi scores his fourth after a piece of shocking defending from the Germans.

GOAL! Barcelona (9) 6-0 (1) Bayer Leverkusen (Tell0)

Tello gets himself a second with a low finish, which Leno should really have been able to deal with. Adriano comes off for teenager Marc Muniesa.

If you think Leverkusen fans have it bad tonight, check this out from the South African Nedbank Cup last weekend. Powerlines FC 0 Mamelodi Sundowns 24. Ouch.

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Well, that was a fairly eventful few minutes. In all the excitement, we missed two goals go in at WHL. It’s currently  Tottenham 3-1 Stevenage. Emmanuel Adebayor and a second from Defoe have put the Londoners out of sight, it seems.

Atmosphere in the Nou Camp pretty subdued considering their side have scored six without replay tonight. Then again, they’re used to this sort of thing I suppose.

Pedro fizzes a ball across from the right but Keita can’t make contact with his outstretched leg.  10 minutes to play.

GOAL! Barcelona (10) 7-0 (1) Bayer Leverkusen (Lionel Messi)

I don’t think there’s any doubt about who will pick up the man-of-the-match tonight. Messi receives the ball on the edge of the box and strokes it beyond Leno for his fifth, yes FIFTH goal of the game. We’re told it is the first time anyone has ever done that in the European Cup. Goodnight and God bless.

GOAL! Barcelona (10) 7-1 (2) Bayer Leverkusen (Karim Bellarabi)

Delighted. Leverkusen have pulled one back, albeit in the last minute of normal time. Substitute Karim Bellarabi hits a cracker after a one-two with Simon Rolfes. Victor Valdes has no chance.

Full-time: Barcelona (10) 7-1 (2) Bayer Leverkusen

In night’s other Champions League tie,  we’ve gone to extra-time after APOEL and Lyon finished 1-0 (1-1 on aggregate).

“You can expect anything from him. He is the best player in footballing history and I am very happy to have him in my team,” Cesc Fabregas on his team-mate.

Right, that’s me signing off on what has been a masterclass by Barcelona. APOEL and Lyon are still battling it out in the 106th minute and there will be a full match report of that game once it finishes. We’ll be liveblogging again on Manchester United’s meeting with Athletic Bilbao at Old Trafford tomorrow evening so check back in about 7pm. Cheers for the company as always.

About the author:

Ben Blake