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.
The 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 Camp Nou.
The 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’s opener for Chelsea 13 minutes earlier.
“For us he is the best player in the world. He’s not just any player,” 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.
“We 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’s not easy for him, he gets so little space, it’s hard for him.”
Tuesday’s 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’s group stages.
That kicked off a series of often epic encounters between the teams in the following six years.
Yet 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.
Despite his record against Chelsea, and the approach of his 31st birthday in June, he looked like Barcelona’s most likely route to goal on Tuesday, finding space in Chelsea’s otherwise disciplined defence and linking up dangerously with Iniesta on several occasions before the pair worked the equaliser.
"We see that so often from him, either with his scoring or his passing for goals. In the big matches he makes his mark." - Samuel Umtiti, Defender, Barcelona
The second leg takes place on 15 March.
Bayern Munich Thrash Besiktas
Bayern Munich, helped by two typical Thomas Mueller goals and two from Robert Lewandowski, romped to a 5-0 home win over Besiktas in their Champions League tie on Tuesday after the Turkish champions played nearly the whole match with 10 men.
Besiktas defender Domagoj Vida was given a straight red card for tripping Lewandowski outside the penalty area in the 16th minute, the defining moment in the round of 16, first leg tie.
Mueller, inelegant yet always effective, broke the deadlock with a miskick two minutes before half-time to break Besiktas's resistance.
Kingsley Coman and Mueller added two more before Lewandowski helped himself to a late brace, virtually assuring the Bavarians of a seventh successive quarter-final appearance.
"We began nervously and couldn't find our rhythm," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes after his side equalled a club record of 14 consecutive wins in all competitions. "The turning point was the sending-off and the goal just before the break."
Besiktas won all three away games in the group stage and came with the clear intention of attacking Bayern but their plans were torpedoed by Vida's red card.
A poor pass from Atiba Hutchinson went straight to Lewandowski, who burst past Vida and was tripped as he ran at goal with only goalkeeper Fabri to beat.
Besiktas could still have snatched a priceless goal minutes later when Vagner Love got past two Bayern defenders to give himself a clear shot on goal but his effort was high and wide.
Bayern then laid siege to Besiktas and Fabri denied them the opening goal with a superb one-handed save at point-blank range to turn away Mats Hummels's header.
Having survived another scare when Ricardo Quaresma burst down the right and forced Sven Ulreich to save at his near post, Bayern broke the deadlock two minutes before half-time.
Coman got to the byline and crossed, Alaba touched it on and the ball fell to Mueller who turned, failed to make proper contact but poked it home.
It was a typically scrappy effort from a player once described on the German Football Federation's Twitter feed as having the elegance of a swan on ice skates.
There was an air of inevitability about the second half as Bayern took complete control.
Coman sidefooted in from Lewandowski's pass in the 53rd minute before Mueller struck again in the 66th, this time sticking his leg out to divert Joshua Kimmich's cross past Fabri.
Lewandowski got in on the act by snapping up a rebound in the 79th minute, before Mueller set up the Poland striker's second and Bayern's fifth.
The second leg takes place in Turkey on 14 March.
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