Willian celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match between Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on February 20, 2018 in London.
Willian celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match between Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on February 20, 2018 in London.

Lionel Messi finally found the net against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night to set the Champions League last 16 tie up perfectly for the second leg.

Willian had earlier opened the scoring in the second half with a perfectly-placed low shot, before Messi took advantage of a defensive error from the hosts.

Chelsea started the match brightly. Of absolutely no surprise to anyone on the planet, it was Eden Hazard who ignited much of the early play. The Belgian unleashed a flying shot from outside the box with his left foot, and Antonio Rudiger went close from a corner soon after.

The following 22 minutes were all Barcelona. Chelsea sat back deep in a 5-4-1 allowing the visitors to pat the ball around. Possession aplenty, Barca still created very little, as they too often tried to play through the cluttered middle of the pitch.

It always felt like Chelsea just needed a sniff. Each time one of the front three got on the ball, it was all go and Barcelona were drawn into a couple of fouls to stop the attacks. Ivan Rakitic picked up the first yellow of the game as Willian broke through just before the half-hour mark.

The 33rd minute saw the Brazilian international bring Stamford Bridge within centimetres of joy. Running parallel to the 18-yard line, he swept his right-boot through the ball. Marc-Andre ter Stegen was left motionless on his goal line as it crashed into the right-hand upright.

Chelsea’s high press was executed to perfection. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez hardly touched the ball in the second-half of the first 45, and the petty fouling from the visitors was growing in frequency.

Again, it was Willian who had the home fans leaping and gasping. This time it was slightly to the left of the box, but it was again into the woodwork. The other post this time, at least, but still frustrating for Antonio Conte, who was resembling his hyperactive 2016/17 self on the touchline.

The second half started with another wave of Barcelona possession. Suarez went close soon after play resumed, but there was no clear-cut opportunity for the Catalan club in the opening 15 minutes of the second period.

Willian finally got the breakthrough in the 62nd minute. Yet again he was on the edge of the box as he received the ball from a corner on the left flank. Standing in plenty of space, Willian calmly controlled the ball as the defenders rushed towards him. His trademark shift onto his right led into a calmly placed, low, driven shot into the bottom-right corner.

Barcelona inevitably controlled the match from then on and the match was levelled up in the 75th minute. A sloppy pass across the box from Andreas Christensen was snatched by Andres Iniesta. The Spaniard then squared it to Messi, who unsurprisingly passed the ball by Thibaut Courtois to break his well-publicised Chelsea duck.

The match became frantic after the goal. Rudiger soon received a yellow card for an over-the-ball tackle, which caused Sergio Busquets to parade over pumping his chest out in his infamous manner. In the 83rd minute, Alvaro Morata arrived off the bench in place of Pedro, with Danny Drinkwater coming on for Cesc Fabregas almost immediately after.

Barcelona got the away goal that they somehow missed out on in 2012. Chelsea can travel to Catalunya knowing they can live with this Barcelona team, and with more than a fighting chance of making it into the last eight.

Ratings: Courtois 7, Azpilicueta 7, Christensen 5, Rudiger 6, Moses 6, Kante 7, Fabregas 6, Alonso 6, Pedro 6, Hazard 7, Willian 8