Leo Messi celebrates one of two goals / GERMÁN PARGA-FCB

It was proving to be a frustrating evening for FC Barcelona, with chance after chance going begging against Pep Guardiola’s well organised defence. But the last quarter of an hour produced a dramatic turn of events. Two fantastic goals from Messi suddenly put the Catalans in command, and a third in injury time from Neymar practically puts Barça on the flight to Berlin.

Chance after chance

The game got off to a frantic start, with both sides battling to hold onto the possession and seeking to create pressure. But it took 18 minutes for Bayern to get their real chance, when Lewandowski found himself in the perfect position to shoot but totally squandered the shot. By that time Barça had already come close a number of times. Three of the best were for Suárez, the latter producing a fine save from  Bayern keeper Neuer, but Messi and Neymar were also quick to get in on the act – former Barça man Rafinha getting there in time to deny an otherwise certain goal for the Brazilian.

Barça continued to throw all they had the Bayern defence, Messi running through the lot of them on 21 minutes but just failing to find the target, Boateng preventing Suárez from converting a perfect cross from Jordi Alba, and the Uruguayan then heading just over the bar. Neuer got his hands on an exquisitely taken Messi free kick, and moments later was called on again to prevent Dani Alves from touching home a superb assist from Iniesta. Rakitic added his name to the goal attempts, but despite scintillating football the visitors survived the first half unscathed.

Messi to the rescue

Bayern’s defensive brilliance continued to thwart Barça after the break, while the Bundesliga champions also started causing considerable problems in the Barça area, Mascherano sending a Lewandowski strike out for a corner. Barça bit back when Messi put Neymar though on goal, but Neuer showed his class once again with a well-timed tackle. Frustration set in and it began to look like this just was not going to be Barça’s day.

Then it all changed. With just 13 minutes left on the clock, Messi collected the ball on the edge of the area and slammed a strong left-footer precisely where Neuer was not going to get to it. And just three minutes later, he did it again. And what a goal it was. The Argentinian left Boateng on the floor and then sent the ball sailing goalward over Neuer’s head. Sheer class!

And there was still more to come. Four minutes into injury time, Suárez found Messi, who in turn found Neymar and the Brazilian coolly put the ball in the net for the third. A night that had looked like it was going to end in frustration instead ended in elation. There’s still the Allianz Arena to come next week, but with a 3-0 lead to defend, Barça are very much in pole position!