Valverde: Messi incredible in Lyon win

Ernesto Valverde hailed the star performance of Barcelona captain Lionel Messi after he shone in a 5-1 Champions League win against Lyon while also praising Philippe Coutinho for his goal.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi   -  Getty Images

Lionel Messi was incredible as Barcelona booked a Champions League quarter-final berth by beating Lyon 5-1, said head coach Ernesto Valverde.

Messi opened the scoring with a Panenka penalty and, after Lucas Tousart sparked Barca nerves by making it 2-1, took the game away from the Ligue 1 side on Wednesday.

The Barca captain dazzled defenders with a stunning solo run before squeezing a low shot past substitute goalkeeper Mathieu Gorgelin.

And Messi then set up late goals for Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele to end the second leg with two goals and two assists at Camp Nou.

"We are all very focused for this competition and Leo too, he has had an incredible match," Valverde said midweek.

"It was extraordinary, we dominated the game, we had chances, we scored two goals and we were able to get one more.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde is not bothered whom his team will face in the Champions League quarterfinals.   -  Getty Images

 

"In the second half, Lyon risked more, they pushed us up looking for the 2-1 that got them in the game, but our people in attack have finished solving the result.

"It was a Champions League match and in this type of game it is normal that we have moments of tension and pressure because they tend to be very fair results.

"In the Champions League you cannot relax because 2-0 was not a definitive result."

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Despite Lyon's attempted fightback, Barcelona booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the 12th year in a row.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are already out, with four Premier League sides awaiting in Friday's draw along with Ajax, Porto and Juventus.

But Barca has exited in the quarters three seasons in succession and Valverde has no preference over who the LaLiga leader face in the next round.

"It is impossible to look only at one team," Valverde said of the draw.

"We have all made merits to progress, we will see the rival, any one that we meet will be complicated."

-Coutinho hits the target, Valverde pleased-

Valverde was also pleased with Coutinho amid his struggles this season. Doubts over the Brazilian's future at Camp Nou have emerged despite only joining Barca from Liverpool in €142million deal in January 2018 due to his inconsistent displays.

But Coutinho was on target for Barcelona, the Brazil star scoring just past the half-hour mark on Wednesday after Lionel Messi's opener.

"It was an important game for him [Coutinho] as it was for everyone, our club and our team," Valverde said during his news conference.

"It is true maybe this year he's had some not great matches, but in some specific times he did well, he scored two goals against Sevilla.

"So, we expect him to get more confidence in order to give us his best. We are happy for him."

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