Brilliant Barcelona buries Bayern

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LETHAL COMBINATION: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (right) celebrates one of his two strikes against Bayern Munich with fellow goal-scorer Samuel Eto’o in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.
LETHAL COMBINATION: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (right) celebrates one of his two strikes against Bayern Munich with fellow goal-scorer Samuel Eto’o in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Ivanovic slots in two as Chelsea rallies to stun Liverpool

BARCELONA: Barcelona rolled over Bayern Munich 4-0 and Chelsea came back to earn a 3-1 win at Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi scored two goals and Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry added the others, all in the first half, as Barcelona gave itself a huge advantage heading into Tuesday’s second leg in Munich.

In Liverpool, Branislav Ivanovic scored his first two goals for Chelsea and Didier Drogba added a third after Fernando Torres had given the host team the lead.

English rivals Liverpool and Chelsea are meeting in a Champions League knockout round for the fourth time in five years. Liverpool won the first two, but Chelsea advanced last year before losing the final to Manchester United.

The winner of each two-leg series will meet next month in the semifinals.

Torres scores

At Anfield, Liverpool attacked Chelsea from the outset and took an early lead through Fernando Torres.

After Dirk Kuyt picked up possession and backheeled to Alvaro Arbeloa, the latter crossed for the unmarked Spaniard to divert the ball into the bottom of Petr Cech’s net.

But Chelsea’s threat was growing. Ivanovic soon raced in undetected between Martin Skrtel and Albert Riera and soared to meet Florent Malouda’s corner for the equaliser in the 39th minute.

Chelsea nearly took the lead in the 51st but Jamie Carragher cleared a shot from Drogba off the line after the Ivory Coast striker had taken hold of Fabio Aurelio’s back pass.

Ivanovic, however, replicated his first goal by beating Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina after rising to meet a corner from Frank Lampard in the 62nd.

“We had three players around but we didn’t stop him,” Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said. “It was a free header.”

Drogba tapped in the final goal in the 67th when Malouda released Michael Ballack, who squared the ball across the penalty area for the onrushing striker to tap into the net.

“We aimed to score and when you can score three, that’s a luxury,” Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink said. “It’s halftime. If we think we can play a relaxed game, that’s not what might happen because Liverpool has shown in the past they can do unthinkable things, and we have to avoid that.”

Terry to miss second leg

In the second leg, Chelsea will be without captain John Terry. The central defender got a yellow card for running into Reina and will have to sit out the team’s next match.

Liverpool had its chances, but Ivanovic diverted Dirk Kuyt’s third-minute shot as it was heading into the top corner.

At the Nou Camp, Messi, who has scored 32 goals in all competitions this season, gave Barcelona the lead in the ninth minute. Eto’o dragged two defenders away before passing to the Argentina winger, who coolly rolled it past goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt. Messi later set up Eto’o for a nearly identical goal in the 13th after anticipating the Cameroon striker’s run.

In the 38th, Messi redirected Henry’s centering pass into goal for his eighth in the competition. Henry rolled the final goal past Butt in the 43rd after Messi dropped the ball off for Eto’o and the ball fell to the France striker.

Lethal combination

Messi, Eto’o and Henry have combined for 89 of Barcelona’s 126 goals this season.

“We had a very good performance but it’s only the first game of the quarterfinals,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. “We’ll try to reach the semifinals and then we’ll decide what we’re going to do. We’re still not in the semifinals yet.”

The results: Barcelona 4 (Messi 9 & 38, Eto’o 13, Henry 43) bt Bayern Munich 0; Liverpool 1 (Torres 6) lost to Chelsea 3 (Ivanovic 39 & 62, Drogba 67). — AP

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