It took him nine games, but Lionel Messi has finally broken through against Chelsea.
The Barcelona talisman scored his first career goal against the Blues in a big moment, finding the net in the 75th minute to level the Champions League match 1-1 at Stamford Bridge and cancel out Willian’s earlier strike.
He was the benefactor of a bad giveaway by Chelsea at the edge of their own area, which was pounced on by Andres Iniesta. The playmaker pulled it back for Messi who did not miss the opportunity and netted Barcelona a crucial away goal in the first leg of the last-16 tie.
The game ultimately finished 1-1, with Barcelona having the opportunity to take advantage in the second leg at the Camp Nou on March 14.
Chelsea had been one of the 12 teams that the Barcelona star had faced in his career without scoring against, and one of two remaining in the current Champions League.
Messi’s drought against the Blues was not for lack of trying as the goal came on the 30th shot the 30-year-old had taken against them in his career.
The equalizer was Messi’s 18th goal against English opposition in the Champions League, by far the most of any player. Rival Cristiano Ronaldo is second with 11.
30 – Lionel Messi has scored his first-ever goal against Chelsea in nine appearances, netting with his 30th shot against them. Finally. #CHEBAR pic.twitter.com/VKVfoiHmcX — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 20, 2018
Messi could move his list of teams he has not scored against down to 10 later this week, should he find the back of the net against La Liga side Girona.
And should Barcelona advance past Chelsea, Messi may get another chance to knock a team off that list. Liverpool is one of that group, and look likely to be in the Champions League quarter-final round after a 5-0 first-leg win against Porto.