Barcelona celebrate on the way to a convincing victory
By Mandeep Sanghera
Ten-man Arsenal succumbed to Barcelona as they were again knocked out of the Champions League by the Catalan outfit.
A Cesc Fabregas mistake allowed Lionel Messi to chip a ball over keeper Manuel Almunia and slot in for Barca.
Arsenal levelled through a Sergio Busquets own goal before the visitors had Robin van Persie harshly sent off.
Barcelona took full advantage as a brilliant move led to Xavi slotting in before Laurent Koscielny's foul on Pedro let Messi score from the spot.
Arsene Wenger's side had their Champions League dreams shattered at the Nou Camp last season when a Messi-inspired Barcelona came from a goal down to win their quarter-final 4-1 and 6-3 on aggregate.
The Gunners' return this time around, with a 2-1 lead from the first leg of their last 16 tie, was a test of whether they had progressed and developed enough to show the steel and substance to beat the Spaniards.
Ultimately, they fell short again and, although the north London outfit will have cause for complaint with the dismissal of Van Persie for a second yellow card, they were given another footballing lesson by the home side.
Arsenal barely failed to muster a shot on goal as they spent most of the game trying to stop the Barca tide.
Van Persie and Fabregas had missed the defeat at the Nou Camp last season and, although they started this time around, the result was the same as the pair played pivotal roles in Arsenal's downfall.
The Gunners had been forced to swap their artistry for attrition as Pep Guardiola's team quickly set the tone of the game by dominating possession while passing and probing for an opening.
Barcelona's work rate in winning the ball back helped keep up their relentless pressure as Arsenal, who had to replace goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny with Almunia early on, could not produce the crisp and controlled passing required to provide some relief.
The saving grace for the Gunners was that they were defending with discipline and determination, which was initially limiting their opponents to fleeting chances.
Van Persie claimed he did not hear the whistle before his attempted shot
Overlapping Barcelona left-back Adriano hit the outside of the bar with an acute-angled shot before a weaving Messi run ended in him shooting straight at Almunia.
However, as half-time beckoned when Fabregas, who had described the Nou Camp as "mythical" in the build-up, inexplicably attempted a back-heel to Jack Wilshere 30 yards out only to give the ball away to Iniesta.
The Barcelona midfielder accepted the gift and dinked a ball through to Messi, who brilliantly lofted it over the onrushing Almunia before smacking in a shot.
It was a body blow for the Gunners and, despite being given a route back into the game when a Samir Nasri corner was headed into his own net by Busquets after 53 minutes, the visitors quickly suffered another setback.
Van Persie, who had been booked for an earlier foul on Dani Alves, was dismissed three minutes later for a second booking after attempting a shot at goal just after the whistle had been blown.
The Dutchman claimed he had not heard the whistle but it did not take the Catalan club long to make their numerical advantage count as Iniesta produced a wriggling run before finding Villa and his first time pass released Xavi, who slotted in.
Koscielny felled Pedro to concede a spot-kick, which Messi expertly converted, as Arsenal were on the brink of capitulation.
It was only the heroics of Almunia which kept the score down as he denied Ibrahim Afellay and Messi, while Alves missed a gilt-edged chance.
Arsenal substitute Nicklas Bendtner could have punished the La Liga outfit by getting a goal which would have seen his side win on away goals.
But, when found by a late Wilshere cross, like his team, the striker did not have the quality needed as his control let him down.
90:00+4:12 The final whistle goes and the game is over.
90:00+3:53 Andres Iniesta fouled by Jack Wilshere, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Andres Iniesta.
90:00 Substitution Scherer Andrade Maxwell comes on in place of Claro Adriano Correia.
89:24 Da Silva Dani Alves has an effort at goal. Save by Manuel Almunia.
87:51 Substitution (Barcelona) makes a substitution, with Seydou Keita coming on for Javier Mascherano.
86:11 Andrey Arshavin is penalised for a handball. Eric Abidal takes the free kick.
85:31 Effort from inside the area by da Silva Dani Alves misses to the left of the goal.
84:07 Ibrahim Afellay takes a shot. Manuel Almunia makes a save.
83:31 Samir Nasri concedes a free kick for a foul on Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi restarts play with the free kick.
82:08 Close range effort by Ibrahim Afellay goes wide of the right-hand upright.
81:19 Substitution (Barcelona) makes a substitution, with Ibrahim Afellay coming on for David Villa.
80:57 The offside flag is raised against Lionel Messi. Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.
79:30 The official flags da Silva Dani Alves offside. Free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.
78:27 Unfair challenge on Hernandez Xavi by Jack Wilshere results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Hernandez Xavi.
78:03 Lionel Messi takes a shot. Manuel Almunia makes a save.
76:52 Indirect free kick taken by Victor Valdes.
76:52 Substitution Nicklas Bendtner on for Francesc Fabregas.
76:52 The referee blows for offside.
76:29 Foul by David Villa on Bacary Sagna, free kick awarded. Bacary Sagna restarts play with the free kick.
74:39 A cross is delivered by Bacary Sagna, Eric Abidal manages to make a clearance.
73:43 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Laurent Koscielny by Lionel Messi. Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.
73:01 Substitution (Arsenal) makes a substitution, with Andrey Arshavin coming on for Tomas Rosicky.
72:37 Effort from the edge of the area by Claro Adriano Correia goes wide of the right-hand post.
70:54 GOAL - Lionel Messi:Barcelona 3 - 1 Arsenal Lionel Messi scores a placed penalty. Barcelona 3 (4)-(3) 1 Arsenal.
70:01 Penalty awarded for an unfair challenge on Rodriguez Pedro by Laurent Koscielny.
68:06 Assist on the goal came from David Villa.
68:06 GOAL - Hernandez Xavi:Barcelona 2 - 1 Arsenal Hernandez Xavi fires in a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Barcelona 2 (3)-(3) 1 Arsenal.
66:55 Handball by Lionel Messi. Free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.
66:14 David Villa takes a shot. Manuel Almunia makes a save.
65:52 Foul by Tomas Rosicky on Hernandez Xavi, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Hernandez Xavi.
65:15 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jack Wilshere on Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi takes the free kick.
62:22 Lionel Messi takes a shot. Johan Djourou gets a block in.
61:04 The offside flag is raised against da Silva Dani Alves. Manuel Almunia takes the indirect free kick.
59:56 Effort on goal by da Silva Dani Alves from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.
58:48 Claro Adriano Correia crosses the ball.
57:54 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Claro Adriano Correia by Tomas Rosicky. Free kick taken by Eric Abidal.
57:40 Hernandez Xavi delivers the ball, save by Manuel Almunia.
57:07 David Villa takes a shot. Manuel Almunia makes a save.
55:16 Victor Valdes takes the indirect free kick.
55:16 Sent off Robin van Persie shown a red card for second bookable offence.
55:06 The offside flag is raised against Robin van Persie.
52:22 GOAL - Sergio Busquets:Barcelona 1 - 1 Arsenal Headed own goal by Sergio Busquets. Barcelona 1 (2)-(3) 1 Arsenal.
51:48 Corner taken by Samir Nasri from the left by-line played to the near post.
50:03 Short corner taken by Hernandez Xavi.
49:06 Corner taken right-footed by Hernandez Xavi to the near post, clearance made by Vassiriki Diaby.
45:01 The second half begins.
45:00+5:05 The half-time whistle blows.
45:00+4:32 Unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere by Eric Abidal results in a free kick. Jack Wilshere takes the direct free kick.
45:00+4:19 Lionel Messi is caught offside. Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.
45:00+2:46 The assist for the goal came from Andres Iniesta.
45:00+2:46 GOAL - Lionel Messi:Barcelona 1 - 0 Arsenal A goal is scored by Lionel Messi from close range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Barcelona 1 (2)-(2) 0 Arsenal.
45:00+1:47 Lionel Messi takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia.
45:00+0:46 Victor Valdes takes the direct free kick.
45:00+0:46 Booking Robin van Persie receives a caution.
45:00+0:35 Free kick awarded for a foul by Robin van Persie on da Silva Dani Alves.
42:55 Corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, clearance made by Hernandez Xavi.
38:57 Sergio Busquets is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.
38:23 Gael Clichy challenges da Silva Dani Alves unfairly and gives away a free kick. Hernandez Xavi crosses the ball from the free
kick right-footed from right by-line, clearance by Laurent Koscielny.
35:54 Booking Jack Wilshere receives a yellow card.
Correction - 35:51 Andres Iniesta fouled by Jack Wilshere, the ref awards a free kick. Lionel Messi produces a strike on goal direct from the
35:51 Unfair challenge on Andres Iniesta by Jack Wilshere results in a free kick. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from
35:24 Shot by Claro Adriano Correia from inside the box hits the post.
33:31 The ball is crossed by Claro Adriano Correia.
32:41 David Villa takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia.
30:58 Da Silva Dani Alves is ruled offside. Manuel Almunia restarts play with the free kick.
29:11 David Villa is caught offside. Free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.
28:46 Andres Iniesta takes the direct free kick.
28:46 Booking The referee shows Bacary Sagna a yellow card.
28:34 Bacary Sagna challenges Andres Iniesta unfairly and gives away a free kick.
27:41 Effort from the edge of the box by Rodriguez Pedro goes wide of the left-hand upright.
26:46 Robin van Persie challenges Lionel Messi unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Hernandez Xavi.
25:48 Da Silva Dani Alves sends in a cross.
18:03 Substitution Wojciech Szczesny goes off and Manuel Almunia comes on.
15:09 Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from da Silva Dani Alves, save by Wojciech Szczesny.
15:09 Booking Laurent Koscielny goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.
15:01 Laurent Koscielny concedes a free kick for a foul on Rodriguez Pedro.
13:51 The ball is swung over by da Silva Dani Alves.
13:18 Corner taken by Hernandez Xavi.
11:44 Francesc Fabregas fouled by Sergio Busquets, the ref awards a free kick. Vassiriki Diaby restarts play with the free kick.
10:37 Free kick awarded for a foul by Vassiriki Diaby on Hernandez Xavi. Free kick taken by Hernandez Xavi.
10:16 Samir Nasri is ruled offside. Free kick taken by da Silva Dani Alves.
9:09 Da Silva Dani Alves is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Wojciech Szczesny takes the indirect free kick.
6:52 The referee blows for offside. Sergio Busquets takes the indirect free kick.
6:23 Free kick awarded for a foul by da Silva Dani Alves on Francesc Fabregas. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.
5:44 Corner taken short by Lionel Messi.
5:13 The ball is delivered by Tomas Rosicky.
4:46 Rodriguez Pedro gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gael Clichy. Gael Clichy takes the direct free kick.
3:37 Corner taken by Hernandez Xavi.
3:21 Rodriguez Pedro takes a shot. Laurent Koscielny gets a block in.
2:12 Free kick awarded for a foul by Samir Nasri on da Silva Dani Alves. Sergio Busquets restarts play with the free kick.
0:42 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gael Clichy on Hernandez Xavi. Direct free kick taken by Lionel Messi.
0:00 The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.
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