Sanchez brace gives Barcelona edge over Leverkusen


Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring during the Champions League last 16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen.

Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring during the Champions League last 16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Barcelona enjoy comfortable 3-1 win in first leg of Champions League tie against Bayer Leverkusen
  • Lyon beat Cyprus’ APOEL FC 1-0 to edge first leg of their last 16 tie

(CNN) — Barcelona have one foot in the quarterfinals of the Champions League after completing a 3-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday night.

The reigning European champions dominated possession for large parts of the game with Alexis Sanchez opening the scoring in the 41st minute.

The Chilean striker chased onto a pass from Lionel Messi before firing past Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Leverkusen equalized seven minutes after the break as recent signing Vedran Corluka chipped in a cross from which Czech Republic defender Michel Kadlec headed home.

But it wasn’t long before Barca were back in front as Sanchez bagged his second of the night scoring from a tight angle after received the ball from Cesc Fabregas.

Leverkusen had chances to equalize again as Renato Augusto forced a save from Victor Valdes and midfielder Gonzalo Castro also hit the post in the 64th minute.

But it was Messi who had the final say on the evening converting a cross from Dani Alves in the 88th minute.

The return leg will be played at the Nou Camp on March 7.

In Tuesday’s other tie, Lyon scored a narrow 1-0 win over Cypriot minnows APOEL FC at the Stade Gerland.

Alexandre Lacazette goal in the 58th minute proved the difference between the teams but the first team from Cyprus to reach the knockout stages are still in the tie which concludes in Nicosia on March 7.

There were two Europa League ties played Tuesday with Besiktasbeating 10-man Braga 2-0 in the first leg of their last 32 tie.

Helder Barbosa’s dismissal in the first half capped a miserable night for last year’s finalists as their Turkish visitors made the most of the numerical advantage with goals in either half from Tomas Sivok and former Portuguese international Simao.

Olympiakos narrowly beat Russian side Rubin 1-0 thanks to a goal from David Fuster in the 73rd minute with former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll coming on as a substitute to save a penalty five minutes later to earn the Greek side a hard fought victory.