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Page last updated at 22:41 GMT, Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tuesday football as it happened


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By Chris Bevan

2241: ... it is time for me to call it a night. It's not been a good one for Arsenal - they will not get to Wembley in the Champions League this season now. Will Tottenham fare any better when they take on Italian giants AC Milan on Wednesday? Join me then to find out (and for Schalke 04 v Valencia and Everton v Birmingham too). Thanks for keeping me company, and bye for now.

2237: Seeing as we are talking about big (and incorrect) decisions affecting the Arsenal-Barca tie, it is only right to remember that Lionel Messi had a perfectly good goal ruled out for Barcelona in the first leg. I would love to talk about this all night but...

FULL-TIME Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal (agg 4-3)
Mandeep Sanghera reports: "Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger dubbed Barcelona "super-favourites" ahead of the tie and the Spanish side showed why by knocking out the Gunners in some style. Wenger's side were not helped by a poor decision to send off Robin van Persie but they were well beaten."

FULL-TIME Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 Roma (agg 6-2)
Saj Chowdhury reports: "Shakhtar deserved to go through to the last eight if you take into account their performances over the two legs. Roma, like in the first match, were rocked by three major incidents in the first half which they never recovered from."

2236: That was a small selection of some of your views. Now here's how our reporters saw the night's action...

From Liam in Norwich, via text: "Out of all the fans in the world, followers of Arsenal should know that dominating a game is never a guarantor of victory. Yes, Barca were brilliant but we've lost enough games after having 70% possession to know that those numbers are not definitive proof of anything. 11 v 10 is the only important statistic tonight."

From Alex in Norwich, via text: "Arsenal will sadly never shake the tag of 'Barcelona lite'. Tonight was a statement from our Catalonian brothers - English football is no longer the best. The king is dead, long live the king."

From Frederick Clayton at Royal Holloway university, via text: "How in the world can Wenger suggest that Arsenal would have won this tie with 11 men? They would have been just as tired and useless with or without Van Persie, and he contributed nothing in the first half anyway, they were totally dominated, 10 men or not."

From anonymous Gunner via text: "The problem with Arsenal is there is nobody, except Gael Clichy, in the team who has won anything. They have become a team who do not know how to win. And Nicklas Bendtner - obviously deluded because, despite what he may think of himself, he is clearly not that good. I do not think that three against Orient and a deflected goal against Huddersfield is Champions League standard. He should (must?) be moved on."

Zayd90 on Twitter: "Regardless of how well Barca played, it all started from when Fabregas gave Messi an utter gift. He'll regret that."

2228: More bad news for the Gunners, I'm afraid. Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny suffered a dislocated finger in the first half of tonight's game... not sure how long that will keep him out for, but one positive for Arsene Wenger to take away from the Nou Camp is how well Manuel Almunia performed after coming off the bench to replace him between the sticks.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola on his side's Champions League win over Arsenal: "We played awesome when it was 11 v 11 and we played awesome at 11 v 10. They are a very good team but they did not make more than three or four passes in a row. We are so, so happy with our performance and we deserve to be in the quarter-finals and over the two legs we were better than them."

2225: How will the Gunners react to this then? Those quadruple dreams are a distant memory now though. Just two trophies left to go for this season... starting with a trip to Old Trafford in the FA Cup on Saturday. Should be spicy. At least Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson can agree on one thing - the standard of refereeing this season has been awful!

2221: While I do feel a bit sorry for Arsenal, we still need to recognise what a genius Lionel Messi is. His two goals tonight mean he is now Barcelona's outright leading scorer in European competition with 33 - he had been level with Rivaldo on 31 (thanks to Infostrada Sports for that stat. His flick for his first goal was sensational too... oh, and he has now hit 45 goals this season. The big 50 cannot be far away, surely?

Football League Danny: "Another brilliant night for Unstoppable Football Machine (UFM) Chesterfield. The League Two leaders beat Northampton and are now 11 points clear at the top and surely - surely - destined for promotion. Bury and Wycombe both won to stay in second and third, while Shrewsbury and Port Vale drew, Gillingham were held and Rotherham lost. Those four teams are in the play-off berths. At the foot, Barnet and Stockport were beaten again, they're 23rd and 24th and they look doomed. Doomed."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "6 - Lionel Messi has now scored six goals in the Champions League against Arsenal, two more than against any other opponent. Bullied."

From James in London, via text: "The referee didn't lose Arsenal the game, but he made sure Barcelona won it. Woeful decision."

Football League Danny: "Great night for Brighton. They edge out Brentford 1-0 at Griffin Park and move eight points clear of Bournemouth, who suffered a rare reverse, going down 2-0 at Exeter. Good wins for Huddersfield, Peterborough, Southampton and MK Dons and the top six are breaking away from the rest in League One. At the wrong end, a rare win for Bristol Rovers (in Stuart Campbell's first match as boss), 1-0 at Tranmere. Plymouth (10 points deducted, remember) are off the bottom after beating new bottom team Swindon. Walsall also lost, and are 21st."

2211: I should explain that Robin van Persie was told there was only a one-second gap between the referee's whistle and his shot (see his quotes below). Like he said, he didn't hear it.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on his side's defeat by Barcelona: "We resisted their pressure in the first half and it would have become very interesting in the second half if it had stayed 11 v 11. On Robin van Persie's red card: "We have many regrets because if you look at how we went out, it was wrong. In a game of this importance, and with people shouting, the referee must have never played football at all to do what he did. Did the ref explain? No. I told him what I thought of his decision face to face and there is not a lot more to say about that. We were beaten by a terrific side, the best team in Europe, but I am convinced if had stayed 11 v 11 we would have won this tie tonight."

matthew_wills on Twitter: "Yes it was a poor decision with RVP, but over the two legs surely the better team went through?"

From anon via text: "People can say all they like about the possession that Barca had etc, but Arsenal set themselves up to be dominated and they played it perfectly before the red."

Football League Danny: "Big Championship night. QPR suffer shock loss, 2-0 at Millwall, ending 11-match unbeaten run. Still seven points clear as it stands. Defeats for Nottingham Forest at lowly Sheff Utd - first win of 2011 for the Blades and first win for boss Micky Adams. Swansea held at home by Watford, Norwich edge out Leicester 3-2. Cardiff are losing 1-0 at Palace in the dying stages at Selhurst Park. And watch Burnley fighting towards the play-offs, they won 1-0 at Hull. And Bristol City made it four wins in a row, ending Pompey's six-match winning run in the process. Phew."

BBC pundit Lee Dixon at the Nou Camp on BBC Radio 5 live: "I can't get over the fact that the referee sent Van Persie off. When you're reduced to 10-men here on this pitch then you're up against it. He's an experienced referee, he surely has to take into consideration where he's playing - you're playing at the Nou Camp and it's a fervent crowd. I've played next to Martin Keown and he's shouting and I've not heard him. Having said that, Nicklas Bendtner had the tie at his feet and he took the touch like my grandma. He's talked about it all week and the time he could actually make a big name for himself, he fluffs his lines."

Hosmodiar on Twitter: "Rubbish Chris, Van Persie clearly heard the whistle, if not his shot was criminal. Also Barca were full value 11 men or not."

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie on being shown a second yellow card for shooting after the referee had blown his whistle: "It had a big influence on the outcome - at 1-1 it was all to play for - and it was a total joke because how can I hear his whistle with 95,000 people jumping up? There was only one second from his whistle to my shot and it is a joke. I explained to him that I had not heard the whistle but he was bad all evening."

2153: And I know it's not just me who is sick of refereeing decisions being the main talking points after games. I wish we were talking about some mesmerising football too. But, when the officials get big ones like that wrong, they have to face the music. They won't though...

2151: I should also point out that Arsenal managed precisely zero shots tonight (their goal was a Barca og) and they were being outplayed, not to mention being out-passed, but they were in the game, and ahead on aggregate when they went down to 10 men. That's a fact. It will be very interesting to hear what Arsene Wenger has to say to the press about it...

RuuAndThatsAll on Twitter: "I'm in tears I can't help myself. Will I ever see us lift the Champions League. Ever? The ref ruined it & I stand by whatever Arsene Wenger says."

2148: Yep, Wenger has had his say, about the Robin van Persie red card, I would think. BBC pundit Lee Dixon just called it a ludicrous decision and he is right - the whistle had only just gone when Van Persie had his shot, and how the heck was he expected to hear it anyway over the noise of a crowd of 95,000. I won't gloss over the fact that Barca were dominating possession, but the score on the night was 1-1 when that decision changed the rest of the game.

2145: Arsene Wenger is waiting to have a word with referee Massimo Busacca. I don't think he is going to say 'good game'.

Full time
2144: FULL-TIME Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal (agg 4-3)

2142: Two minutes to go. Manuel Almunia waves his Arsenal team-mates forwards as he launches a goal-kick. But Barca are soon back in possession.

2140: We are into stoppage time at the Nou Camp - and there will be four minutes of it for Arsenal to try to rescue this match. Barca have made their third chance with Maxwell coming on for Adriano.

Full time
2140: FULL-TIME Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 Roma (agg 6-2)

2139: Another change by Barcelona. Javier Mascherano, who got back to put Nicklas Bendtner under pressure for that last opening, is off and Seydou Keita is on.

2137: Here is Arsenal's chance... and it is a golden one. Adriano gives the ball straight to Jack Wilshere down the left and he rolls the ball into the path of Nicklas Bendtner on the edge of the area. The Dane takes a touch but it is a heavy one and Victor Valdes is off his line quickly. Chance gone.

2136: No save needed by Manuel Almunia this time. Dani Alves is all alone in the area but plays the ball back across goal for Lionel Messi when he should shoot. Barca are trying to walk the ball in now - will they pay for it?

2135: More last-ditch defending by Arsenal to deny Lionel Messi and, when the ball breaks for Ibrahim Afellay on the left of the area, another tremendous save by Manuel Almunia. The Gunners need to get the ball back, and quickly. Time is running out.

2133: GOALFLASH Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 Roma (Eduardo) (agg 6-2)

2132: Almost an instant impact by Ibrahim Afellay who latches on to an Adriano pass and makes for goal. Johan Djourou does just enough to put him off, however, and the Dutchman arrows his shot a fraction wide. Still just one goal in this...

2131: Time for a Barca change. Ibrahim Afellay is on for David Villa. We are into the final 10 minutes at the Nou Camp.

Football League Danny: "Matthew Lowton puts Sheffield United 2-1 up on Nottingham Forest. Could be the Blades' first win in 2011."

2130: Barca may have the lead and an (undeserved) man advantage but they still need to make this game safe. They already would have done if not for Manuel Almunia, who has been superb for Arsenal tonight. This time he keeps out a Lionel Messi shot with his legs after a neat move from the hosts. No hat-trick for the Argentine tonight, not yet anyway.

2126: Better by Arsenal, who keep hold of the ball and come forward with purpose. The move ends when Cesc Fabregas is caught just offside, though, and that is the last action of the night for their skipper. Nicklas Bendtner is on instead.

BBC pundit Lee Dixon at the Nou Camp on BBC Radio 5 live: "Now Barcelona have got their tails in front you'll just see more and more Barcelona players streaming forward. The Arsenal players are dejected. They still only need one goal to go through but where it's going to come from is another question."

Football League Danny: "A rare bad night for QPR. Danny Shittu sees red for a professional foul, Liam Trotter nets the resulting penalty and it's Millwall 2-0 up. Meanwhile, it's a rare bad night for the Cherries. Exeter 2-0 Bournemouth. Good night for Brighton, who are 1-0 up at Brentford. And, as I type, it's Sheffield United 1-1 Nottingham Forest, Sam Vokes with the Blades' equaliser."

2123: Right, there are about 15 minutes left for 10-man Arsenal to find a goal. That is the only way they are going to stay in this season's Champions League. They have done it once, can they do it again? Andrey Arshavin is on for Tomas Rosicky to try to rescue the Gunners.

Someone has won a penalty
Barcelona goal: I've not been convinced by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca tonight but this is a definite penalty. Laurent Koscielny sends Pedro tumbling inside the box and Lionel Messi steps up to roll home the resulting penalty. He was never going to miss that, was he? As things stand, Arsenal are out.

2121: GOALFLASH Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal (Messi) (agg 4-3)


Barcelona goal: A breathtaking goal by Barca brings the teams level on aggregate. Andres Iniesta and David Villa link up to put Xavi clear and he prods the ball past Manuel Almunia. This is ominous for Arsenal.

2118: GOALFLASH Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal (Xavi) (agg 3-3)

2117: Wow. Arsenal's defence is cut apart by Lionel Messi's through-ball and David Villa is in. He lets fly with a first time shot but Manuel Almunia is out to block it with hand and leg and whatever he can manage. It doesn't matter. It's a brilliant save and the Gunners survive again.

From Dom from London, via text: "I'm a diehard Spurs fan, but that red card is utterly ridiculous. Let's see the referee try and hear a whistle amongst 90,000 screaming voices. Silly."

2114: All hands to the pump now for Arsenal. Manuel Almunia saved bravely at the feet of Pedro (who was offside anyway) before Johan Djourou launches himself at a Lionel Messi shot to block the ball on the edge of the area. The Gunners have got 25 minutes to hold out, but it is going to feel like a lifetime.

Football League Danny: "Cripes. QPR are losing. Steve Morison puts Millwall 1-0 up on the Championship leaders whose buffer zone at the top is coming down to five points, as it stands. Preston pull one back, they're now 2-1 down against Leeds."

Shakhtar goal: Henrik Mkhitaryan's corner from the right eludes everybody in the area except for Willian on the far left corner of the area. The Brazilian curls in brilliantly on the half volley.

2110: Barca are coming forward in waves now but their last attack ended rather wastefully when Dani Alves fired over from the edge of the box.

BBC pundit Lee Dixon at the Nou Camp on BBC Radio 5 live: "It was touch and go whether he (Van Persie) was offside, he takes one touch and has a go. That's a really bad decision by the referee. Don't expect Arsenal to do much attacking now. That's such a bad decision, I can't believe it."

2108: Barca have had more chances too, either side of that red card. David Villa had the first one - firing straight at Manuel Almunia when he had ran into the box - and the second one as well, failing to find space for a shot from the left-hand side of the six-yard box.

Red card
Arsenal red card: Harsh this, to say the least. Robin van Persie chases a ball over the top but he is marginally offside. He doesn't know it, though, and goes for goal - smashing his shot wide. According to referee Massimo Busacca, that is time-wasting and that means a second yellow card for the Dutchman. A stupid decision. Arsenal must play the last 35 minutes with 10 men.

2106: RED CARD Arsenal's Robin van Persie

2105: GOALFLASH Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Roma (Willian) (agg 5-2)

Arsenal goal: The Gunners have not had a shot on target, but they are level. Samir Nasri does brilliantly to get down the left and force a corner. Nasri takes it too, and the ball is met by Barca defender Sergio Busquets at the near post to divert the ball into his own net. That is a gift apiece on the night, and Arsenal are back in front on aggregate.

2102: GOALFLASH Barcelona 1-1 Arsenal (Busquets og) (agg 2-3)

2101: Worrying times for Arsenal. Barca are not only seeing more of the ball, they are finding plenty of space too.

2100: Lionel Messi is not finished yet, is he? He fails to find the overlapping Dani Alves with a cute pass but then wins the ball back off Gael Clichy and drives at the Arsenal defence again, this time from the right flank, before being crowded out by the byline. Arsenal need to attack, but they have some defending to do first.

2057: Scrappy stuff so far since the restart. Arsenal have shown more intent going forwards but they cannot keep hold of the ball when they advance into the Barca half.

From anon via text: "Why can't Arsenal play as they usually do in the Premier League? Keep possession and make Barca chase the ball. Play them at their own game!"

Football League Danny: "Leicester 1-2 Norwich, thanks to a penalty from the Canaries' Grant Holt. Most of the top teams in the Championship doing well tonight, Swansea, Norwich, Forest and Leeds all winning - Cardiff are the ones to slip as it stands (they're currently 0-0)."

2054: And we are back under way at the Nou Camp too.

From John via text: "Barcelona dominating and leading at the break, just like the first leg. And we know how that ended, Arsenal aren't out yet."

2051: The second half has started at the Donbass Stadium in Donetsk.

2051: So, where now for Arsenal? Surely Robin van Persie needs some support up front, because he has been anonymous so far. We will wait and see what Arsene Wenger has up his sleeve.

Football League Danny: "Big moment at Sheffield United. High-flying Nottingham Forest take the lead at the strugglers through Dele Adebola. Just before half-time. Speaking of Sheffield-themed teams conceding, it's Oldham 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday, Dale Stephens with the Latics leveller."

naskopalov on Twitter: "Weird match. Wenger trying to emulate Mourinho. Arsenal must do what they can now - attack. Arshavin to come on soon."

2046: Just seen it. Pure class - a feather-like touch to lift the ball past the keeper. And it was his 44th goal of the season too.

2045: I am still waiting to see that little Lionel Messi dink over Manuel Almunia for the Barca goal again. I've got a feeling it is worth a repeat viewing or three...

BBC pundit Lee Dixon at the Nou Camp on BBC Radio 5 live: "Cesc Fabregas just had an aberration there. I don't know what he was doing. Arsenal had done the hard work in keeping Barcelona out of their penalty area for a large amount of the time and to give it away like that with a silly mistake at the edge of the box when you had possession is criminal. Fabregas didn't even look behind him and just presumed Wilshere was there. Messi didn't have a great first touch but his second was exquisite. Fabregas needs to go in at half-time and apologise to the four defenders."

2043: Right, the bad news for Arsenal is that they have to score, and they have 45 minutes to do it. If the score at the Nou Camp stays the same then Barcelona will progress on away goals after 90 minutes.

SumGuy24 on Twitter: "Bad time for Arsenal to concede but what a goal from Messi. The cheek of it was incredible."

From anon via text: "Game set and match. Arsenal can't get in the Barca box, let alone score."

Half time
2038: HALF-TIME Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 Roma (agg 4-2)
Saj Chowdhury's half-time snapshot: "When it rains it pours. Roma looked good for the 15 minutes then they conceded a fluked goal, missed a penalty and had a man sent off. Surely they can't, can they?"

Half time
2037: HALF-TIME Barcelona 1-0 Arsenal (agg 2-2)
Mandeep Sanghera's half-time snapshot: "Heartbreak in first half injury time for Arsenal. After such a resolute performance from the Gunners they have just shot themselves in the foot."

Barcelona goal: Oh dear. An absolute nightmare for Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas here. He should just get rid of the ball when a Barca attack breaks down but tries a clever flick instead and only succeeds in finding Andres Iniesta, who slips Lionel Messi free. Messi dinks the ball over the onrushing Manuel Almunia and smashes the ball into the net. Barca have the breakthrough they craved, and lead on away goals too.

2034: GOALFLASH Barcelona 1-0 Arsenal (Messi) (agg 2-2)

2033: We will have five minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half, and we almost start it with a goal. Lionel Messi weaves into the area, again, but shoots straight at Manuel Almunia.

Yellow card
2031: Yep, this game is fast boiling over - there were a few hands being shoved in people's faces there. Referee Massimo Busacca chooses to book absolutely no-one but, when play restarts, he does show yellow to Robin van Persie for a shove on Daniel Alves.

2031: What's this? A bit of handbags on the halfway line when Barca players accuse Jack Wilshere of feigning injury and Arsenal, understandably, take offence.

Football League Danny: "First blood to Bristol City in the battle of the in-form Championship sides. Albert Adomah puts the Robins 1-0 up on Portsmouth. That's Portsmouth who came into this game on the back of six straight wins and having not conceded a goal in any of them."

2030: Five minutes to go until half-time in Barcelona. Robin van Persie, who we have not seen much of so far, has just won a (rather fortunate) corner down the right but it comes to nothing. Victor Valdes is still to make a save.

Red card
Roma red card: A difficult task for the Italian side just got even harder. Philippe Mexes is shown his second yellow card, for a challenge on Luiz Adriano, and Roma, who trail 4-2 on aggregate and have missed a penalty, are down to 10 men in Donetsk.

Yellow card
2026: I thought he had got away with it, but it turns out Jack Wilshere became the latest Arsenal player to see yellow when he slid in on Andres Iniesta a few moments ago.

2025: SENDING OFF Roma's Philippe Mexes

tom_g_wright09 on Twitter: "Can anyone at Nou Camp confirm whether Victor Valdes is still on the field?"

I can confirm he is. The Barca keeper is using his time to complete a jigsaw he has been meaning to finish for a couple of weeks.</CPS:EVENT>

Someone has struck the woodwork
2022: David Villa slips Adriano clear on the overlap down the left and he goes for goal... or at least I think he does. In any case, he smacks the ball against the outside of Manuel Almunia's post and it rebounds to safety.

Football League Danny: "Fans of instant replies will enjoy events at the Greenhous Meadow. Port Vale took the lead against Shrewsbury in the League Two promotion tussle, but Shrews levelled almost immediately. Exeter lead League One high-fliers Bournemouth 1-0 thanks to veteran Jamie Cureton."

BBC pundit Lee Dixon at the Nou Camp on BBC Radio 5 live: "Arsenal just need to get a bit of possession because they can't keep this up for 90 minutes, it's draining chasing the ball all game. There's a slight weariness about the Arsenal back four, they just need to have a bit of a breather and the way they do that is to get the ball into the Barcelona half."

2019: Real pressure by Barcelona this. David Villa steals a march on the Gunners defence and surges into the area, holding off Laurent Koscielny. His shot is disappointing, however, and trundles into Manuel Almunia's arms.

2018: Lionel Messi is starting to liven up here, and would have had another shooting chance if he hadn't over elaborated on the edge of the area. Moments later, and in roughly the same place, the little Argentine is blatantly blocked off as he tries to weave into the area again. No foul, says referee Massimo Busacca. I'm not sure about that myself.

Someone has won a penalty
Missed Roma penalty: Henrik Mkhitaryan is judged by referee Howard Webb to have pulled down Marco Borriello. The Italian gets up to take the spot-kick, but it's awful. Andriy Pyatov saves low, and very easily too.

Yellow card
2016: Bacary Sagna is booked for a tackle on Andres Iniesta, and Tomas Rosicky throws the ball away. He was a bit lucky to escape a yellow himself there.

2015: Barcelona's best chance of the game. Johan Djourou times his tackle to perfection to deny Lionel Messi as he nips into the area but the ball breaks for Pedro on the edge of the box. He has time to pick his spot but curls his first-time shot over the bar.

Football League Danny: "Quick goals at Leicester. Wesley Hoolahan put Norwich 1-0 up, but Richie Wellens levelled almost immediately. Stephen Dobbie has put Swansea 1-0 up at home against Watford. It's Oldham 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday - that's broken a 500-minute plus goal drought for the Latics. And new boss Stuart Campbell's made a good start as his Bristol Rovers side lead 1-0 at Tranmere - three of the bottom four in League One are currently ahead."

2013: MISSED PENALTY by Roma (Marco Borriello)

2012: PENALTY to Roma

2011: Arsene Wenger is on his feet and he is not happy. Daniel Alves slid in to dispossess Samir Nasri and was not exactly shy with his challenge. No foul - he got the ball.

2010: Danger for Arsenal when Lionel Messi links up with Adriano down the left and Barca send over an inviting cross. None of their team-mates can get on the end of it, though.

2009: More than 20 minutes gone at the Nou Camp and still 0-0. Arsenal are smothering Barca's attacks well enough but are struggling to keep hold of the ball in midfield when they do win it back.

2006: A bit of an escape for Arsenal. Pedro Rodriguez is onside when he runs on to a ball hoisted over the Arsenal defence, but he is just unable to reach it and it bounces behind.

Shakhtar goal: Harsh on Roma who have been making all the running. Willian comes in from the byline and delivers a low in-swinging ball into area which Tomas Hubschman gets the faintest of touches on to flick it home.

2004: Yep, big trouble for Wojciech Szczesny. He cannot continue, even after lengthy treatment. Manuel Almunia is coming on to replace him between the sticks for the Gunners. This is a blow for Arsenal.

2003: GOALFLASH Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 Roma (Hubschman) (agg 4-2)

Yellow card
2001: Our first booking of the night, and it goes to Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny, who sends Pedro tumbling and concedes a free-kick about 30 yards out. Daniel Alves takes it, and blasts his shot past the wall but straight at Wojciech Szczesny... a comfortable save, but I think Szczesny has bent a finger back here.

Football League Danny: "Not a goal-fest - yet - in the Football League. But Burnley lead at Hull in the Championship. At the foot of League One, Plymouth lead at Swindon and Dagenham and Redbrdige are ahead against Colchester. Big, big relegation-themed goals."

1958: Not such clever defending by Arsenal, this. Johan Djourou gives the ball straight to Javier Mascherano on the halfway line and Barca break quickly through Lionel Messi. Although he loses possession, another slip by Laurent Koscielny gives the ball straight back to him. Messi rolls the ball back into the danger zone and it takes a super sliding block by Jack Wilshere to clear up the danger inside his own area.

1957: Three Barcelona players are a couple of yards offside when Dani Alves runs on to another chipped pass down the right. Notably Alves, who ran across the backline before darting forward to pick up the pass, only just got his timing wrong there.

1955: Barca are still probing but Arsenal are also getting plenty of men forward when they get the ball. The home side have seen a lot more of it so far, though.

From anon via text: "Can we PLEASE stop building this up as such a mammoth task for Arsenal?! Yes this Barcelona side are very good, but for a team at the top of the Premier League to not lose away from home is not a mammoth task!"

I'm going to have to disagree with you there, I'm afraid... this is the Nou Camp, you know?

1951: And a first attack of note for Arsenal follows quickly afterwards. Tomas Rosicky has space out on the right and sends over a decent low cross too... it's just a shame it is a few yards in front of Robin van Persie.

1950: A first sniff for Barca. Xavi's clipped ball sets Pedro free but Laurent Koscielny gets back quickly to block his shot. Good defending.

1949: Samir Nasri chases a Jack Wilshere ball over the top but is penalised for a push and/or a handball. Either way, it's a Barca free-kick.

1947: Barca, as you would expect, are already passing it around nicely. Mostly in their own half so far. Arsenal's response is to be tenacious in the tackle, with Gael Clichy diving in to send Xavi tumbling on the touchline. No cards, though - that was late, but not dirty.

1946: And in Barcelona too. Hold on to your hats...

1945: We are under way in Donetsk.

prajjwalpanday on Twitter: "Real test for Wenger and his boys. No more excuses, no more complaining post-match. Time to show the boys have become men!"

Football League Danny: "Just a quick note - kick-off in Exeter v Bournemouth in League One has been put back 15 minutes. That's now a 2000 GMT start."

1943: The Nou Camp is rocking... all we need now is the players. Here they come now, Barca resplendent in red and blue and Arsenal easy to spot in bright yellow.

BBC pundit Lee Dixon on Arsenal's chances of overcoming Barcelona: "The second half of the first leg at the Emirates gave me genuine hope for Arsenal, with Jack Wilshere picking up the ball and driving towards goal. Robin van Persie being fit is a boost too because Barcelona's centre-backs are a new pairing and can be got at. It is important Arsenal start quickly and try to put the Barca defence under pressure.

1937: Here's some refereeing team news too, er, well you know what I mean... Martin Atkinson was originally down to officiate Shakhtar Donetsk versus Roma tonight but he is ill so another Englishman will replace him. Step forward Mr Howard Webb.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Robin van Persie's surprise return from a knee injury to play against Barcelona: "He worked very hard and surprisingly he made it. He is important for our link play, for the confidence he gives and at set plays. He is important for the balance of the team. They have put an offensive team out and so have we so let's hope we can get a similar result as in the first leg."

From Ian in Bishop Auckland, via text: "forget the World Cup final, Arsenal vs Barcelona is the greatest football show on earth. World Cup finals aren't always classics, Arsenal vs Barcelona games always are, better footballers, better play better games. let battle commence."

From Mo in London via text: "Arsenal have a great chance tonight. Last year they went there needing a goal, not the case this time. Plus the bonus of a second-string defence for Barca."

1931: Not long to wait now folks. Less than 15 minutes to go until kick-off in Catalonia.

1927: Give this page a manual refresh and you will be able to watch Midweek Final Score and/or listen to commentary from the Nou Camp on BBC Radio 5 live, if you are in the UK anyway. If not, you are stuck with me I'm afraid.

Spanish football expert Graham Hunter on BBC Radio 5 live on the importance of Lionel Messi to Barcelona tonight: "He has to be extremely good and Barca need him to be to make the difference, because right now the teams are extremely closely balanced. It is going to be very tight and there could possibly be extra time."

Football League Danny: "Unstoppable Football Machine (and League Two leaders) Chesterfield welcome Gary Johnson's Northampton and could, theoretically, move 14 points clear if they win and results go in their favour tonight. The automatic promotion/play-off mixer sees big games for Bury (home to Morecambe), Wycombe (away to Barnet), Rotherham (at Bradford) and especially Shrewsbury, who host Port Vale in what looks like a fifth v sixth cracker."

MattWood1312 on Twitter: "Wenger clearly doesn't trust Chamakh or Bendtner to perform on the big stage, Van Persie's inclusion is a big risk if not 100%."

aogfc on Twitter: "Daunting, improbable, massive and intimidating but surely not impossible... we've gotten this far, why not? C'mon you Gunners!"

Football League Danny: "Rampant League One leaders Brighton take a trip to Brentford and could be seven points clear if Bournemouth slip up at fellow south-coasters Exeter. Or, if that situation's reversed, one point clear. Charlton (seventh) will want to win at MK Dons (sixth) to boost their play-off hopes. Elsewhere, seemingly-doomed Bristol Rovers try out their third manager of the season as they travel to fellow Rovers, Tranmere."

Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma line-ups
Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov, Srna, Chygrynskiy, Rakitskiy, Rat, Hubschman, Mkhitaryan, Douglas Costa, Jadson, Willian, Luiz Adriano. Subs: Khudzamov, Eduardo, Stepanenko, Gai, Alex Teixeira, Ischenko, Moreno.
Roma: Doni, Nicolas Burdisso, Juan, Mexes, Riise, Taddei, Pizarro, De Rossi, Perrotta, Borriello, Vucinic. Subs: Lobont, Castellini, Totti, Greco, Brighi, Caprari, Rosi.
Referee: Howard Webb (England)

Football League Danny: "Championship leaders QPR will look to continue their march to the Premier League with a win at London rivals Millwall. They're well clear - but it's much closer behind them. Swansea, Cardiff, Norwich, Nottingham Forest and Leeds all play on what looks like a pivotal night in the promotion race. By the way, Cardiff, Forest and Leeds face trips to relegation-haunted Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Preston respectively, so it's top v bottom big drama a go-go."

1913: As well as the fact Robin van Persie is fit, there's another reason why Arsenal fans can take some encouragement into tonight's game - the form of Samir Nasri. He is on an equal footing to Barcelona's stars according to former Gunners star Gilles Grimandi, who told my colleague David Ornstein: "Xavi is 31 years old, Samir is 23. If you compare Samir to Xavi when Xavi was 23, Samir is by far the better player. This season he's been on the same level as the world's top players and, believe me, he will get a lot better in the coming years."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "50 - The last time Barcelona had under 50% of possession in a Champions League match was on December 5th 2006, against Werder Bremen. Hog."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on how his side will approach their daunting trip to the Nou Camp: "It is a little bit of an illusion to go to Barcelona and think they will not score at all. So you have to think we want to score at least a goal. Is it realistic to go there to try to play a 0-0 from the first minute on? First of all it would be considerably against our nature and even tactically I don't think it is defendable. We have not a team with 11 defenders who are happy to defend."

joshkdavies on Twitter: "We all saw on Sunday what happened when a great team is missing their two centre-backs. I've a good feeling!"

Mandeep Sanghera reports: "Arsenal striker Robin van Persie starts as he has recovered from the knee injury that was expected to keep him out of the game. Midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere are also in a Gunners line-up in which Tomas Rosicky gets the nod ahead of Andrey Arshavin. Barcelona have a makeshift centre-back partnership of Eric Abidal and Sergio Busquets with Gerard Pique suspended and Carles Puyol injured. Javier Mascherano comes into the side to take up the holding midfield role Busquets usually operates in."

From anonymous Gunner via text: "Re 1858. The inclusion of Tomas Rosicky has scared me!"

ChrisJack28 on Twitter: "As an Arsenal fan I'm very worried that we'll concede but a strong attacking line up could be key to progress."

Barcelona v Arsenal line-ups
Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Busquets, Abidal, Adriano Correia, Xavi, Mascherano, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa, Messi. Subs: Pinto, Bojan, Keita, Milito, Maxwell, Afellay, Thiago.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Diaby, Rosicky, Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie. Subs: Almunia, Denilson, Squillaci, Arshavin, Eboue, Chamakh, Bendtner.
Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)

1858: So Arsenal fans, how are you feeling? I'm guessing nervous and/or tense, and quite possibly a bit scared? I could be wrong, though, so let me know if you are actually full of confidence about tonight. This is how: Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, ask me a question direct @chrisbevan_bbc or text me via 81111 (UK).

nedeckersley on Twitter: "Forget the Nou Camp its all about what's going on in Ukraine.... ahhhh who am I kidding. Massive."

Saj Chowdhury
reports: "Since the 3-2 defeat at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on 16 February, there has been a change in fortunes for previously beleaguered Roma. Coach Claudio Ranieri resigned and was replaced by caretaker boss and former Fulham striker Vincenzo Montella, who has helped the Serie A side to two wins and a draw. This match, however, is Montella's biggest challenge to date - overturning a first-leg deficit against a side that has not lost at the Donbas Arena in two years. Oh, and it's below freezing in Ukraine."

1854: There is plenty else going on as well tonight as well you know. Don't believe me? Try Shakhtar Donetsk versus Roma in the Champions League (the first leg of that one was a real goalfest) and a full programme in the Championship, League One and League Two. Football League Danny will be along shortly with more details on that little lot.

BARCELONA v ARSENAL (1945 GMT, agg 1-2)
Mandeep Sanghera reports: "Are some Arsenal fans in need of a bit of hope? Well, if you are, here's a little stat: On the 15 occasions the Gunners have won a first leg at home in Europe, they have gone on to win the tie 14 times. But here's a note of caution as well: The one time Arsenal didn't do it was on Spanish soil against Valencia when a 2-1 home win was followed by a 1-0 away defeat. Another concern for the Gunners is that Barca haven't lost at home in 20 matches and have won 18 of those. That probably hasn't helped much, but I tried."

Robin van Persie starts at the Nou Camp. More on that shortly.

1848: Yep, Barca have already got the better of the Gunners three times in the Champions League: in the 1999/00 group stages, the 2006 final and, of course, last year's quarter-finals, when Messi ran amok. Tonight, Arsene Wenger's men have got a (not exactly commanding) 2-1 first-leg lead to protect at the Nou Camp, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake. These are two of the best teams on the planet but there will be only one winner tonight (obviously). Excited? Yep, me too as it happens.

1844: Hello. Here we go again then. Barcelona versus Arsenal. You probably know how this usually turns out.... but will tonight be any different?

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Champions League results

8 Mar 2011 23:59 UK

see also
Tuesday's football photos
08 Mar 11 |  Football

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