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).
|Roberto Carlos declares Neymar and Brazil the World Cup favourites|
|Kluivert tells son Justin to snub Manchester United for Barcelona|
|Reading appoint former Swansea boss Clement|
|I had to get out of my comfort zone - Goretzka explains Bayern switch|
|Adelaide United 5 Newcastle Jets 2: Five-star Reds end winless streak|
|Goals, nutmegs and cheers - Usain Bolt impresses in Borussia Dortmund training|
|De Bruyne: Don´t compare me to Messi and Ronaldo|
|Real Madrid can win the Champions League, Roberto Carlos claims|
|Martinez determined to earn World Cup place|
|Arthur ´counting the days´ to Barcelona switch|
|English football must address racism, says Southgate|
|Alisson can be world´s best – Taffarel|
|Ter Stegen dismisses ´Messi with gloves´ label|
|Buffon: Messi more complete than Ronaldo|
|Neymar is irreplaceable, says Tite|
|Conti: Milan much better thanks to Gattuso|
|Show must go on in Hollywood! - Pogba and Mkhitaryan say Ibrahimovic goodbyes|
|Arthur: I´ll find out if Messi is from this planet|
|Barcelona better than Real Madrid even if Neymar signs - Iniesta|
|I haven´t booked a holiday yet - Leno hoping for World Cup call|
|I may be 40 but I´m still Juve´s number one – Buffon bullish over Italy return|
|Italy coach Di Biagio dismisses Raiola rage over Balotelli snub|
|Lopetegui not ruling out Martinez World Cup chances|
|Spain defender Ramos targeting Casillas caps record|
|Pogba gets no special treatment from Deschamps|
|Ibrahimovic to LA Galaxy? Beckham, Drogba, Pirlo and the other stars to try MLS|
|Wilshere out for England with Pickford to face Netherlands|
|Southgate rejects England safety concerns over World Cup|
|Great things come to an end - Ibrahimovic confirms Man Utd departure|
|This is Messi´s team - Sampaoli puts faith in Barcelona superstar|
|Juventus to play in MLS All-Star Game|
|Low confirms Can will miss Spain game|
|Ibrahimovic released by Manchester United|
|Santos not interested in Ronaldo to China links|
|WATCH: Messi scores superb solo strike in Argentina training|
|Koeman names Van Dijk new Netherlands captain|
|Dybala and Icardi´s World Cup hopes doused by Sampaoli|
|I almost s*** myself - Pique on Keane rant|
|UEFA order PSG to close Auteuil stand|
|Brilliant Bale basks in Wales record|
|Neuer needs to play to make Germany´s World Cup squad – Low|
|China 0 Wales 6: Record-breaking Bale leads demolition job in perfect start for Giggs|
|Bale becomes Wales´ record goalscorer with China hat-trick|
|The ´reality for people with a brain´ is Manchester United are in transition, Mourinho claims|
|West Ham ban disruptive fans for life after Burnley chaos|
|Iniesta hints at post-World Cup international retirement|
|All we do is talk s*** - Pique goads Madrid stars over WhatsApp|
|Euro 2016 humiliation helped England, claims Dele Alli|
|Iniesta confident of two more years in Barcelona starting XI|
|Kane probably the best striker in the world - Maguire|
|Wenger told Wilshere he could leave Arsenal|
|If you play for Atletico, you must be committed – Koke responds to Griezmann speculation|
|Giggs: Bale will feature for Wales in China Cup|
|Maradona: Messi doesn´t have to prove himself by winning World Cup|
|Cristiano Ronaldo hasn´t asked to leave Real Madrid amid China links – Perez|
|Manchester United apply for professional women´s team|
|Bolt a fan of Ronaldo, but compares his talent to Messi´s|
|Heynckes definitely leaving at end of season, claims Ze Roberto|
|Shaw issue a distraction from Manchester United´s failures, says Neville|
|Hamsik withdraws from Slovakia squad|
|Griezmann backs Pogba to prove doubters wrong for France|
|Sanchez ´expected something better´ from Manchester United move|
|Javi Martinez in the dark over Spain squad omission|
|Giggs feeling the tension ahead of Wales debut|
|Juventus confirm Alex Sandro thigh injury|
|Hart praises ´loyal guy´ Southgate amid World Cup axe fears|
|I miss Morata, says recalled Costa|
|I can improve even more at Manchester City - Bernardo Silva|
|Neymar will be fit for the World Cup, insists Ronaldo|
|Costa thinks Griezmann will stay at Atletico Madrid|
|Ferdinand worried by England´s World Cup striker options|
|Stam leaves Reading after wretched run|
|Neymar is great, we´ll see if he joins Real Madrid – Asensio|
|Maguire tips ´nightmare´ Vardy to replace injured Kane|
|Malcom ready to leave Bordeaux and chase Bayern ´dream´|
|Asensio insists Zidane was not unfair to him|
|Griezmann wants future resolved before World Cup|
|Nocerino wants Conte return after Italy´s World Cup ´disaster´|
|Iconic 2002 World Cup haircut was media distraction, reveals Ronaldo|
|Wright: Difficult for Liverpool sensation Salah to resist Real Madrid|
|Yaya Toure yet to report for international duty, confirm Ivory Coast|
|Morrison confirms plans to play for Jamaica|