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Published: 21:38 | 23/2/16

Messi pushes Arsenal to brink of CL exit

Brace gives Barcelona stranglehold on last 16 tie

Arsenal’s chances of progressing past the last 16 of the Champions League appear all but over after Lionel Messi’s late brace condemned them to a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates.

The Gunners, content to sit deep, keep a compact shape and try to launch counter-attacks, frustrated the defending champions for large stretches of the game before they were finally undone with 19 minutes remaining.

The Catalans’ celebrated front trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar sprung on the break, combining brilliantly to carve open Arsenal before the little Argentine jinked inside Petr Cech and lifted the ball into the empty net.

Arsene Wenger’s side, despite having less than one-third of the possession, had the better of the opportunities in the first half with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain guilty of wasting a great chance to break the deadlock.

However, just before the break the visitors began to prise the Arsenal rearguard open, a pattern which continued after the restart.

Indeed although the hosts were on the attack when Messi finally opened the scoring, there was an inevitability about the goal coming and when Messi was chopped down on 83 minutes, the world player of the year got up to coolly slot his penalty past Cech.

The second surely means Arsenal will exit at this stage for the sixth season in-a-row while Luis Enrique and his Barca side continue their hunt for an unprecedented back-to-back treble.

Meanwhile in the night's other match, Juventus produced a second-half comeback against Bayern Munich after looking dead and buried in the tie.

The Bundesliga leaders utterly dominated last year's beaten finalists in the first half, and finally took a deserved lead just before the break when Thomas Muller slotted in before Arjen Robben cut in from the right and fired a second into the far corner of the net on 55 minutes.

The Serie A champions pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute when Paulo Dybala finished well and suddenly Pep Guardiola's side looked uncertain.

Stefano Stuaro then beat Manuel Neuer from close range with just 14 minutes remaining to give Juventus real hope ahead of the second leg at the Allianz Arena.

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