Lionel Messi scored for the first time against Chelsea as Barcelona came from behind to take a vital away goal into the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.
Willian hit the post twice but finally found the net with what looked to be the winning goal, only for Messi to score for the first time in six games to earn a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, leaving the clash finely balanced.
Chelsea and Barca were facing each other for the 13th time in the Champions League, renewing their rivalry after a classic semi-final clash in 2012, and for much of the contest there was nothing between the sides despite Barca's inevitable dominance of the ball.
Barcelona had 75 per cent possession in the first half but the Catalans were perhaps fortunate to go into half-time level, Willian having been denied by the woodwork on two occasions.
He fine-tuned his radar after the interval, however, rifling home into Marc-Andre ter Stegen's bottom-left corner to give Chelsea the lead.
But Messi pounced on his only chance of the game, capitalising on sloppy Chelsea defending to slot in from Andres Iniesta's pass to give Barca a narrow advantage ahead of the second leg on March 14.
Eden Hazard, playing a central attacking role with Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud benched, flashed a drive over as Chelsea made a bright start.
Antonio Rudiger flicked Willian's right-wing corner wide, then Paulinho missed an even better aerial chance when picked out by Messi, planting his header wide of the post.
Ter Stegen made a comfortable save to keep out Willian's free-kick after the Brazilian had been brought down by Ivan Rakitic, who earned the game's first booking.
Willian was even closer with his next effort after 33 minutes but, although Ter Stegen was well beaten, the 25-yard curler cracked against the post and rebounded to safety.
And from an almost identical position Willian hit the woodwork again, this time clipping the outside of Ter Stegen's right-hand post with a strike that curled away from the goalkeeper.
Luis Suarez flashed a strike across goal as Barcelona built pressure, but they were caught out by the sucker punch as Willian finally found his range after 62 minutes.
IT HAD TO GO IN !!! willyyyyy @willianborges88— Michy Batshuayi (@mbatshuayi) February 20, 2018
A short corner from the left was worked to Willian on the edge of the box and he used Rudiger as a shield to bend a superb strike into Ter Stegen's bottom-left corner.
Suarez had a strong penalty appeal rejected after Rudiger challenged the striker in the box, but Barca drew level with 15 minutes to play.
Andreas Christensen, preferred to captain Gary Cahill, gave the ball away on the edge of the Chelsea area, with Iniesta working the ball to Messi for a straightforward low finish.
Both sides thereafter appeared to settle for a draw, Christensen's lapse in concentration proving costly ahead of next month's second leg.
"Leo Messi has scored against Chelsea."— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018
Key Opta stats:
- Barcelona have conceded in each of their seven visits to Stamford Bridge in the Champions League (W1 D2 L4), with their only win coming in February 2006 (2-1)
- Six of Willian's nine Champions League goals for Chelsea have come from outside the box (67%).
- In fact, since joining Chelsea in 2013-14, Willian has scored more Champions League goals from outside the box than any other player (6, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo & Neymar on 5).
- Messi has scored 18 goals in 27 appearances against English sides in the Champions League, including eight in his last five.
- Chelsea are the 71st club that Lionel Messi has scored against for Barcelona - he has only failed to score against 11 clubs that he has faced.
- Lionel Messi has now scored at least one goal in exactly half of his appearances in the Champions League (61 games scored in, 122 appearances).
|AFE rejects Miami plan for Girona-Barca|
|Messi and Ronaldo to decide world´s best young player|
|Ryder Cup 2018: Talisman Poulter key to European hopes|
|Pogba hits out at critics who ´create drama´|
|Barcelona to appeal Lenglet red card|
|Ryder Cup 2018: Team Europe profile|
|Patriots´ Gronkowski threatened to retire if traded to Lions|
|Ryder Cup 2018: Four reasons why Europe will win|
|Tigres and Monterrey condemn violence that leaves fan in intensive care|
|Williams baffled by coach´s claim he sent her US Open final signals|
|Ryder Cup 2018: A sporting spectacular you cannot afford to miss|
|Cricket Australia closes investigation into Moeen claim|
|Zlatan impressed by ´MVP´ singer|
|Modric hoping to complete FIFA and UEFA double at Best Awards|
|Mickelson never doubted Woods would win again|
|Woods looked like Tiger of old in 80th PGA Tour win|
|Chelsea were too slow against West Ham - David Luiz|
|Tottenham star Kane acknowledges sub-par start|
|Rashid signs one-year all-format deal with Yorkshire|
|Brady and Patriots crash to back-to-back defeats|
|Gundogan looking forward to ´real test´ against Liverpool|
|Cubs move closer to clinching NL Central|
|Valverde bewildered by Lenglet red card as Barca boss questions VAR|
|Cronk a ´long shot´ to play in NRL Grand Final|
|Cleary re-signs with Panthers until 2024|
|Bills stun Vikings, Chiefs QB Mahomes impresses again|
|Tiger feels he can surpass Snead´s record after 80th victory|
|Ronaldo mentally stronger than others, says Allegri|
|MLS Review: Ibrahimovic scores as Galaxy end seven-game skid, Dallas reclaim top spot in west|
|Rose told Woods it was ´about time´ after win|
|Dustin Johnson regains number one ranking|
|Pogba: Sanchez will deliver at Man United|
|Federer, Zverev help Europe defend Laver Cup|
|I couldn´t sit or stand – Tiger Woods reflects on back woes after ending drought|
|Snead´s record in sight – Tiger Woods´ 80 PGA Tour wins|
|Nicklaus, Magic Johnson, McIlroy and Kane – Sports stars celebrate Tiger´s Tour win|
|Tiger Woods season in review: Tour Championship win caps remarkable comeback|
|49ers fear QB Garoppolo suffered torn ACL|
|World of golf is proud of Woods – Rose|
|WATCH: Tiger followed by incredible sea of fans at East Lake|
|Three takeaways from the 2017-18 PGA Tour season|
|Mbappe shows off signed Pele shirt|
|Tiger timeline: Woods´ fall and rise|
|Spieth´s breakthrough, Garcia´s Masters moment - Events between Tiger´s triumphs|
|Tiger Woods: I was close to tears on the last hole|
|Woods earns first win since 2013; Rose claims FedEx Cup|
|Pogba implores Manchester United to ´attack, attack, attack´|
|Valverde, Busquets and Vidal criticise Lenglet dismissal|
|Tiger Woods: The stunning statistics|
|Fitness hindering Dybala form, says Allegri|
|BREAKING NEWS: Woods claims first title since 2013, Rose wins FedEx Cup|
|Povetkin struggles leave Joshua with no Wilder fear|
|Guardiola targets Barca, Bayern dominance with Premier League priority|
|Centurions Rohit and Dhawan put India in final|
|Eagles top Colts as Wentz makes his return|
|Barcelona 2 Girona 2: Stuani brace punishes Lenglet red|
|Frosinone 0 Juventus 2: Ronaldo redeemed as champions extend perfect start|
|Gattuso: No alibis for two-faced AC Milan|
|Bangladesh hold on despite late Afghanistan charge|
|Composed Woods hits turn with five-shot lead|
|Chiefs´ Mahomes has another record-breaking Sunday|
|Saints QB Drew Brees passes Brett Favre for most career completions|
|Emery hints Leno may need patience after Cech display|
|Picamoles scores four as Montpellier batter 14-man Toulouse|
|Messi breaks LaLiga record|
|Worcester fend off prowling Tigers, Sarries go top|
|AC Milan 2 Atalanta 2: Last-gasp Rigoni rescues a point|
|Neymar keen to repay supporter affection|
|Pellegrini rues West Ham´s wastefulness|
|Paris Saint-Germain´s positive response buoys Tuchel|