Champions League: Liverpool tops Bayern, Barcelona rides Messi

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/liverpool/" data-ylk="slk:Liverpool">Liverpool</a> striker Sadio Mane (10) celebrates his first goal against Bayern Munich. (John Powell/Getty)
Liverpool striker Sadio Mane (10) celebrates his first goal against Bayern Munich. (John Powell/Getty)

Defender Joel Matip’s own goal late in the first half gave Liverpool a good scare, but in the end the Reds still managed to beat Bayern Munich and advance to the Champions League quarterfinals with a surprisingly easy 3-1 win in Wednesday’s second leg.

Two goals by Sadio Mane and one from Virgil van Dijk paced Liverpool. The two teams had played to a scoreless draw in England in the opener three weeks ago, a result players on both teams insisted would help their side in the decisive match in Munich.

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But Reds striker Mane punched a hole in the hosts’ veneer of confidence in the 26th minute, taking advantage of an overaggressive challenge by Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer and cooly lofting the ball over two defenders and into the unattended net:

It was no less than Liverpool deserved. Jurgen Klopp’s side were the better team from the start.

Predictably cagey early on given the stakes involved, the match began to open up after the 20th minute. The teams traded chances, with Bayern’s Tiago firing over the bar. The visitors’ Bobby Firmino missed wide from distance. But Mane’s strike left no doubt about who was in control, the away goal immediately changing the complexion of the series because it meant the home team would need to score two.

Neuer’s fine save on Andrew Robertson prevented Liverpool from killing the game off before halftime. Then Bayern’s Serge Gnabry beat Robertson at the other end of the field, and Matip touched the ensuing cross past Reds backstop Alisson:

The fluky play pulled Bayern back within striking distance five minutes before halftime. And it stayed that way until the break, with Liverpool and their thousands-deep throng of traveling supporters forced to sit through a suddenly excruciating intermission. If the players were at all shaken by the setback, though, it certainly didn’t show when the action resumed.

The home side didn’t really look capable of finding the goal they needed. And when Van Dijk powered home another for the guests, the outcome was beyond all doubt:

Mane added his second goal six minutes before the end of a match that will go down as one of the most comprehensive Champions League wins by Liverpool — last season’s runner-up in the competition — in recent memory:

That’s no small praise for a club that has made three finals (winning one) in the last 15 years.

Lionel Messi scores twice, sets up two other goals in rout of Lyon

Barcelona destroyed French side Lyon 5-1 in Wednesday’s other decisive round of 16 match. Lionel Messi, the world’s best player, opened the scoring from the penalty spot following a controversial foul against — who else? — Luis Suarez.

Replays seemed to show Suarez stepping on the Lyon defender’s foot. But Messi made no mistake with his attempt, cheekily chipping his shot in the center of the net with a textbook “Panenka”:

Suarez set up fellow former Liverpool man Philippe Coutinho to make it 2-0 on aggregate and on the night around the half-hour mark.

Lyon pulled one back in the second half before Messi took over the match. First he scored on a brilliant individual run, undressing two defenders with a razor-sharp cut before firing in the hosts’ third goal:

Apparently confident that the match was won, Messi then turned playmaker, setting up tallies for Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele over the final 12 minutes. His first assist capped a ruthless counterattack with the veteran Pique providing the finishing first touch off an incisive cross:

Dembele added the cherry with four minutes to go, the French youngster happy to twist the knife in his compatriots with another first-time strike off a perfectly weighted Messi pass:

Doug McIntyre covers soccer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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