It was almost the perfect performance from Chelsea as they proved to be a thorn in Barcelona’s side once again in the Champions League but one lapse in concentration saw Lionel Messi break his duck against the Blues. Willian had put the home side in front before Andres Iniesta fed Messi to level things up and secure a crucial away goal for the azulgranas.

Chelsea started the game on the front foot with a rocking Stamford Bridge behind them and Eden Hazard almost put his team a goal up with a left-footed strike that sailed wide of the far post, much to Marc-Andre Ter Stegan’s relief. Barcelona found their feet and dominated for large parts of the first half but didn’t create many chances. Lionel Messi was buzzing about in deeper positions and wasn’t causing much damage near the penalty area.

The one time the Argentinian did find a pocket of space inside Courtois’ area, he picked out Paulinho at the back post but the former-Tottenham man couldn’t guide his header goalwards. It was his compatriot, Willian, who went closest, not once but twice, to breaking the deadlock before half time. Ter Stegan could only watch a long-range Willian curler hit the post before the Brazilian fired a second shot that ricocheted off the other upright leaving Antonio Conte with his head in his hands on the touchline.

Andreas Christensen looked a little nervous in the Chelsea backline and sent one or two passes astray of their targets but still remained as calm and composed as ever. His clean sheet was almost gone minutes into the second half when Luis Suarez found himself in behind the Chelsea defence. Cesar Azpilicueta managed to force him wide as he sprinted into the penalty area and the former Liverpool striker sent a low shot wide of the far post with Courtois getting fingertips to it, just to be sure. The Chelsea crowd were sensing another great European night under the lights against Barcelona and another memorable goal was about to come.

Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard worked a short corner and the latter whipped a pass over to Willian who stood alone on the edge of the area. The Barcelona players rushed towards him as he collected Hazard’s pass but he shifted the ball quickly onto his right foot and rifled the ball into the near corner, leaving an unsighted Ter Stegan rooted to the spot as Willian slid towards the corner flag in celebration. He was mobbed by his teammates and, after they’d congratulated him and walked away, Willian went down on his knees with his arms pointed to the sky in what seemed like a significant moment for him – after those two strikes in the first half that had come off the post, he’d finally got his goal on the biggest stage.

The Brazilian could’ve, maybe should’ve, helped make it 2-0 minutes after when he found himself on the right wing with the ball at his feet. If he’d picked his head up, he’d have seen a marauding N’Golo Kante bursting through midfield and into open space ahead of the Barcelona goal. Willian either didn’t see him or elected not to pass to his teammate and the attack fizzled out, and Barcelona punished that wasted opportunity moments later. It was Christensen again who played his team into danger when his pass across his own penalty area bypassed Cesc Fabregas and fell to Andres Iniesta.

Cesar Azpilicueta dived in, when maybe he should’ve stood up to defend against his compatriot, and couldn’t intercept the ball and Iniesta found himself in behind the defence. The Spaniard, with his typical composure and vision, found Lionel Messi and the 5-time Ballon D’Or winner slotted it at the near post to score his first goal against Chelsea at his ninth attempt. The wild celebrations in the away end told the story of how important that away goal could be to Barcelona and it now means Chelsea have to score at the Nou Camp.

Late substitute, Alvaro Morata, couldn’t grab a goal before the final whistle and a string of fouls and stoppages caused the game to drift away with both sides fairly content with what they had. Having said that, Antonio Conte will be disappointed to see his game plan, which had been well executed by his players, fail to earn him a win against one of Europe’s best teams. The two sides do it all over again at the Nou Camp in three weeks’ time and the tie is delicately poised to say the least.