Sanchez brace gives Barcelona edge over Leverkusen

Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring during the Champions League last 16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen.

Story highlights

  • Barcelona win 3-1 in first leg of Champions League tie against Bayer Leverkusen
  • Alexis Sanchez scores twice and Lionel Messi wraps it up for Spain's titleholders
  • Lyon beat Cyprus' APOEL FC 1-0 to edge first leg of their last-16 tie in France
  • Besiktas and Olympiakos win last-32 first-leg ties in the second-tier Europa League

Barcelona put one foot into the quarterfinals of the Champions League after completing a 3-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.

The reigning European champions dominated possession for large parts of the game with Alexis Sanchez opening the scoring in the 41st minute of the opening leg of the last-16 tie in Germany.

The Chilean striker chased onto a pass from Lionel Messi before firing past Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Leverkusen equalized seven minutes after the break as recent signing Vedran Corluka chipped in a cross from which Czech Republic defender Michel Kadlec headed home.

But it wasn't long before Barca were back in front as Sanchez bagged his second of the night, scoring from a tight angle after receiving the ball from Cesc Fabregas.

Leverkusen had chances to equalize again as Renato Augusto forced a save from Victor Valdes, and midfielder Gonzalo Castro also hit the post in the 64th minute.

But it was Messi who had the final say on the evening, converting a cross from Dani Alves in the 88th minute to give Barca a comfortable buffer ahead of the second leg at the Nou Camp on March 7.

    The world player of the year had started the move, finding Alves down the right with a superb pass, and he earlier hit the post after a sublime flick over the onrushing Leno.

    In Tuesday's other last-16 tie, French side Lyon scored a narrow 1-0 win over minnows APOEL FC at the Stade Gerland.

    Alexandre Lacazette's goal in the 58th minute proved the difference between the teams, but the first club from Cyprus to reach the knockout stages still have hopes of progressing with victory in Nicosia on March 7.

    There were two Europa League ties played Tuesday with Besiktas beating 10-man Braga 2-0 in the first leg of their last-32 tie.

    Helder Barbosa's dismissal in the first half capped a miserable night for last year's finalists as their Turkish visitors made the most of the numerical advantage with goals in either half from Tomas Sivok and former Portugal international Simao.

    Olympiakos edged Russian side Rubin Kazan 1-0 thanks to a goal from David Fuster in the 73rd minute.

    Former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll coming on as a substitute to save a penalty five minutes later to earn the Greek side a hard fought victory.

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