Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thierry Henry Inspires Barcelona to an Emphatic 5-2 Win Over Lyon

Barcelona took Olympique Lyonnais apart at the Camp Nou tonight to record an emphatic 5-2 victory and book a place in Friday week's quarterfinal draw.

A barnstorming first half saw Los Cules race into a 4-0 lead and effectively end the tie before Lyon even got out of the blocks.

Thierry Henry scored a quickfire double to continue his hoodoo over Lyon, the mercurial Frenchman has been as good as he ever was in an Arsenal shirt and was the inspiration behind everything that Barca did well tonight.

His power and pace caused the Lyon offside trap all kinds of problems throughout. Aided by inept comedic defending by Jean-Alain Boumsong, the duo more than helped Barca on their way.

Henry's first was after a precision through ball by Xavi and with a clean set of heels he raced away from the lumbering Boumsong and finished with aplomb. Xavi turned creator again a minute later when he found an unmarked Henry on the left hand side of the box.

With plenty still to do Henry drew the keeper out before finishing with the precision of a surgeon. He then turned creator for Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o.

The little Argentinian picked the ball up out on the right and beat three players with a mesmerising run, he then used Henry as a wall and picked up the return pass to cooly pass the ball into the corner of the net, leaving Hugo Lloris a spectator in the Lyon goal.

Henry then capped off an amazing 15 minute period by setting up Samuel Eto'o who fired home from 12 yards to give himself a perfect birthday present by ending his recent goal drought.

With all the hard work done Barca then decided to switch off and Jean Makoun rose unchallenged to head home from a corner to give Lyon a glimmer of hope.

The glimmer became a crack in the opening moments of the second half after Juninho Pernambucano smashed in a goal after a neat dummy from the otherwise ineffective Karim Benzema.

For the next 10 minutes Lyon pushed Barca with all their might but their clear lack of threat in front of goal meant the score stayed at 4-2.

Pique and Marquez looked like desperate men as they defended erratically and with more clinical players Lyon could have pushed Barca.

As the game wore on Barcelona began to get on top again and Thierry Henry made way for Seydou Keita. It would appear on paper as if this season will be Henry's last at the Nou Camp. Barca have targeted another Arsenal player in Robin van Persie as the ideal replacement.

This has been the Frenchman's best period since his move from the Gunners and it would appear that he still has much to offer. In a team that has a forward line of Messi on the right, Eto'o through the middle, and Henry on the left there will always be a huge threat of goals.

But the sheer pace the trio provide is really frightening and Barca could do worse than hold onto the Frenchman for one more year.

As it was his replacement Keita scored in the 90th minute, to wrap up the game and put the gloss on an otherwise great night.

But it was not before a little controversy as Juninho received his marching orders after he argued with the referee following a free kick being awarded to Barca after Cris appeared to hit a Barca player in the face while shielding the ball.

The 5-2 victory will come as a huge sigh of relief to Pep Guardiola and following their weekend win over Bilbao it would appear as if Barcelona have indeed turned a corner after going one month without a win.

Going forward Los Cules are truly amazing and Guardiola has done a fantastic job to harness the attacking power of his team, but they have serious problems at the back. Pique and Marquez are average centre halves at best, while Abidal is quite poor.

And Barcelona will not fill the top Champions League with a huge amount of fear. They will score goals but they're guaranteed to concede against good opposition and you can already see Rafael Benitez rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of knocking out another big Spanish team...

Champions League Odds:

Barcelona 5/2

Manchester United 11/4

Chelsea 9/2

Liverpool 6/1

Arsenal 8/1

Bayern Munich 10/1

Villareal 28/1

Porto 33/1

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