The Malta Independent 19 March 2019, Tuesday

UEFA Champions League: Lyon draw 0-0 with Barcelona in last 16; Liverpool, Bayern draw 0-0

Associated Press Tuesday, 19 February 2019, 23:39 Last update: about 26 days ago

Lyon kept Barcelona's vaunted attack in check as the sides drew 0-0 in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi failed to add to his six goals so far in the competition, while Luis Suarez had the goal gaping but sliced a shot wide with 20 minutes left after latching on to Jordi Alba's pass from the left.

When Messi picked out Sergio Busquets five minutes from the end, the midfielder's rasping shot from the edge of the penalty area drew a fine save from Anthony Lopes.

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Messi had the goal in his sights in the last minute with his second free kick of the night, but struck it into the wall and did the same with the rebound.

Both goalkeepers did well in a contest free of any cynical or heavy fouling, with Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen making two fine saves inside the first 10 minutes from midfielder Houssem Aouar and forward Martin Terrier.

Although Lyon spent much of the half chasing Barcelona's slick midfielders, Barca's approach play too often broke down around the penalty area. Suarez was the biggest culprit, wasting several promising moves with unusually hurried passes.

Coach Ernesto Valverde's side won the Spanish league last season and leads it again. But Barcelona has not reached the Champions League final since winning the competition for the fifth time in 2015.

In the night's other match, Liverpool and Bayern Munich also drew 0-0 in a match between five-time champions.

The return legs are on March 13.

Missing its best forward Nabil Fekir through suspension, Lyon started with Moussa Dembele as the central striker with Memphis Depay playing behind him. Terrier, cutting in from the left, was the most dangerous of Lyon's forwards.

Lyon almost scored after five minutes when Aouar showed great technique to receive a pass on the edge of the area, neatly make space and shoot low to the right. Ter Stegen got down well to push his shot away and moments later made an even better save to tip Terrier's powerful shot one-handed onto the crossbar.

As usual, Messi was elusive to mark and often found good positions.

But he had a largely frustrating first half, failing to test Lopes with a free kick and two shots. When his trickery did work, notably with an excellent scooped pass over the defense in the 39th, the disappointing Dembele fluffed his shot.

Terrier shot wide seconds before the break and Depay finally got involved when he curled a shot wide in the 52nd.

A tactical switch from Lyon coach Bruno Genesio saw Depay moved wide left, with Terrier through the middle and Dembele on the right.

It gave Lyon greater mobility but made it at risk from a swift Barcelona counterattack. On one of those, Suarez finally found some room to turn in the penalty area, but impressive defender Leo Dubois nipped in to block his shot.

After Messi had an angled drive comfortably parried by Lopes near his front post, Valverde brought on Philippe Coutinho for Dembele.

Barcelona's players stepped it up and finished the match with a greater sense of urgency as they hunted a valuable away goal.

Lopes cut out a dangerous Alba cross, saved from Coutinho and narrowed the angle when Messi ran onto Suarez's pass.

 

Liverpool, Bayern draw 0-0 in Champions League first leg

Bayern Munich still can't find a way to score at Liverpool, drawing 0-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday to go a fourth game without netting at Anfield across 48 years.

By denying Bayern an away goal, Liverpool has a slight edge heading into the second leg of the round of 16 knowing it would advance with a scoring draw.

Liverpool had a scare in the 13th minute when Joe Matip unwittingly diverted Serge Gnabry's cross goalward from close-range and the ball bounced off goalkeeper Alisson Becker to safety. Bayern winger Kingsley Coman then sent a shot into the side-netting three minutes later.

Liverpool squandered chances when Mohamed Salah headed wide from Trent Alexander-Arnold's delivery and Sadio Mane shot wide on the turn.

Mane also miscued an attempted overhead kick in front of the Bayern goal and Matip sent the ball wide from Roberto Firmino's cutback before halftime.

In a strong defensive display by Liverpool, makeshift center back Fabinho made a well-timed tackle on Robert Lewandowski in the six-yard box. Gnabry sent a shot fizzing over the bar from outside the box in the 59th but Bayern struggled to test Alisson.

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer preserved the clean sheet in the 85th by tipping Mane's diving header tipped around the post.

On a quiet night in the competition, the other game between Lyon and Barcelona was also scoreless.

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