{
    "title": "Messi finally makes his mark on Chelsea",
    "image": "https:\/\/images.supersport.com\/2018\/2\/Lionel-Messi-180221-Celebrates-G-300.jpg",
    "body": "<p>Barcelona's Lionel Messi had to wait 12 years and endure a goal drought of eight games against Chelsea but he finally broke his duck in Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League last 16, first leg draw.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\nThe last time Barca played Chelsea, in a semi-final in 2012, Messi whacked a penalty against the bar which allowed the London side to claw their way back to an unlikely win at the Camp Nou.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\nThe diminutive Argentine atoned on Tuesday, giving Barcelona a precious away goal as he strode on to a pass from Andres Iniesta in the 75th minute and calmly side-footed the ball home to cancel out Willian\u2019s opener for Chelsea 13 minutes earlier.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\n\u201cFor us he is the best player in the world. He\u2019s not just any player,\u201d Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic said of Messi, who has now scored 98 Champions League goals compared to his Real Madrid rival Ronaldo's 116 in the competition.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\n\u201cWe have a lot of faith in him. We know that what we need to do is free him up as much as possible. And it\u2019s not easy for him, he gets so little space, it\u2019s hard for him.\u201d<\/p><p>\r\n\r\nTuesday\u2019s Champions League encounter was the ninth time that Messi had faced Chelsea, a run of games stretching back to 2006 when the sides met in the competition\u2019s group stages.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\nThat kicked off a series of often epic encounters between the teams in the following six years.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\nYet even during the 2011\/12 season, when Messi scored 73 goals for Barcelona, he failed to find the net in the two games he played against the Londoners.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\nDespite his record against Chelsea, and the approach of his 31st birthday in June, he looked like Barcelona\u2019s most likely route to goal on Tuesday, finding space in Chelsea\u2019s otherwise disciplined defence and linking up dangerously with Iniesta on several occasions before the pair worked the equaliser.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\n\u201cWe see that so often from him, either with his scoring or his passing for goals,\u201d Barca defender Samuel Umtiti told reporters. \u201cIn the big matches he makes his mark.\u201d<\/p>",
    "blurb": "Barcelona's Lionel Messi had to wait 12 years and endure a goal drought of eight games against Chelsea but he finally broke his duck in Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League last 16, first leg draw.",
    "date": "2018-02-21T11:16:14",
    "author": "",
    "credit": "Reuters",
    "img_credit": "Lionel Messi \u00a9 Gallo Images",
    "category": "Champions League",
    "videos": []
}