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).
|Griezmann wants future resolved before World Cup|
|F1 2018: Hamilton v Vettel - the race for five titles|
|Nocerino wants Conte return after Italy´s World Cup ´disaster´|
|Celtics capitalise on Thunder meltdown, Harden scores 42 points|
|Jason Day hungry to reclaim top ranking: My game is close|
|Iconic 2002 World Cup haircut was media distraction, reveals Ronaldo|
|New Zealand star Taylor fit for day-night Test|
|Teenager Anisimova to face Muguruza in Miami|
|McIlroy credits Wayne Rooney for improved putting|
|Stokes return a ´huge boost´ for England – Root|
|Wright: Difficult for Liverpool sensation Salah to resist Real Madrid|
|Yaya Toure yet to report for international duty, confirm Ivory Coast|
|Masters favouritism could hinder Woods, Thomas claims|
|I wish I could still play with him – Ortiz on Red Sox addition Martinez|
|Morrison confirms plans to play for Jamaica|
|Warriors target Friday return for Curry against Hawks|
|Starc and Marsh set to play at Newlands|
|Red alert: Richard Sherman ´excited´ to be a 49er|
|Germany should be proud to have Sane, says Tah|
|Bertrand out of England friendlies with back injury|
|Optimistic McIlroy ´crossed that line´ with Bay Hill win|
|Young backs Mourinho over Shaw treatment|
|BVBolt? Athletics great scores header while training in Dortmund kit|
|Fekir will look to leave Lyon the right way, says agent|
|Ex-Springboks coach Meyer takes charge at Stade|
|Spieth relishing Reed match play showdown|
|Alisson loves Roma and we haven´t discussed Liverpool move, insists agent|
|Henderson becomes third Ireland player to sign new deal|
|Romo ready to create ´mental bubble´ ahead of PGA Tour debut|
|McTominay: I always wanted to play for Scotland|
|Chiesa vows to honour Astori with Italy displays|
|England´s Pope ready for Heaton challenge amid World Cup race|
|Lautaro Martinez confirms impending Inter move|
|Morata wasn´t happy with Spain snub, admits Alonso|
|Raiola rages over Italy´s Balotelli snub|
|Injured Saunders postpones Murray fight|
|PGA tightens security at Dell Match Play in wake of Austin bombings|
|Raiola hopes Reina to Milan hastens Donnarumma exit|
|F1 Raceweek: Hamilton prepares to begin title defence in Melbourne|
|Former Sevilla coach Berizzo eyeing return after beating cancer|
|Cutrone did not expect whirlwind Milan season and Italy call-up|
|Saints punish North for missing training|
|´Happy´ Kepa mulled over Real Madrid move|
|GGG wants Saunders next if Alvarez bout is called off|
|Former All Black Mika passes away|
|Lucas Vazquez keen on Real Madrid stay|
|South Africa delighted to call on ´world´s best´ Rabada|
|Tiger Woods continues climb in FedEx Cup, world rankings|
|Juventus clear Chiellini of serious injury|
|Newcastle charged as youth team allegedly breach advertising regulations|
|Kearney joins Best in extending Ireland contract|
|I did not betray Roma – Pjanic could not pass up Juventus opportunity|
|Cardiff Blues appoint Mulvihill as Wilson replacement|
|Title-chasing Sarri closes on Napoli renewal as he hopes to repay fans|
|Cook: I wasn´t close to quitting during Ashes|
|Messi and Ronaldo reveal World Cup kits|
|Nara praises Inter project as Icardi talks continue|
|Best to lead Ireland in World Cup after signing extension|
|Marseille´s Rami wants to ´tickle´ PSG|
|Fury targeting Louis´ record for title defences|
|Salah can push on to Messi´s level - Robertson|
|Rabada free to play in rest of South Africa-Australia series|
|F1 2018: Halo splits opinion ahead of Australia debut|
|Iniesta better than last year – Lopetegui|
|Federer yet to decide on clay-court season|
|Okon quits as Mariners head coach|
|LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Bucks as Love returns|
|Lopetegui: Morata must earn World Cup spot|
|Ronaldo has asked about China – Scolari|
|Ebron signs two-year deal with Colts|