The Argentine scored twice and teed up Ousmane Dembele for the other as Barcelona booked their quarter-final spot.
Lionel Messi nutmegged Thibaut Courtois twice to reach 100 Champions League goals and set up Ousmane Dembele for another goal as Barcelona thrashed Chelsea to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
Messi opened the scoring after just two minutes and eight seconds, firing through Courtois’ legs from a tight angle after Luis Suarez’s superb flicked ball in the area.
Chelsea rallied and pushed Barcelona back but Messi hit the Blues on the break again, ripping the defence to pieces before teeing up Dembele to blast home in the 20th minute.
Marcos Alonso and Olivier Giroud had shots blocked and N’Golo Kante dragged a shot wide as Chelsea battled back again.
The Blues hit the post for the third time across the two legs just before half-time, with Alonso’s free-kick crashing off the upright to Antonio Conte’s frustration.
Chelsea could have had a penalty after the break when Gerard Pique brought down Alonso in the box.
However Messi killed off the game in the 63rd minute, driving another shot through Courtois legs to send Barcelona in the quarter-finals for the 11th season running.
Here are the five key talking points from the game…
1. Messi pours scorn on Chelsea ‘hex’ with vintage display
For a few years Chelsea fans could be proud that despite playing them on several occasions, Messi couldn’t score against them.
Of course the Argentine maestro broke that jinx at Stamford Bridge in the first leg when he equalised to earn Barcelona a draw.
Tonight he removed any remaining doubts by scoring the quickest goal of his career. Two minutes and eight seconds into the game Messi nutmegged Courtois with a strike from a tight angle to send Barcelona ahead.
That was his first touch in the area, and his second, after 20, was to set up Dembele to double Barcelona’s lead.
Messi’s assist was the conclusion to a superb solo run, leaving three Chelsea players for dead like hopeless pensioners trying to flag down a bus which has no plans of stopping.
Then the No 10 scored a classy third to reach 100 goals in the Champions League, finding his own plane in time and space to take the ball round the outside of the chaos in the penalty area and then drill it between Courtois’ legs.
2. Courtois not living up to expectations
For three seasons on loan at Atletico, Thibaut Courtois was good enough to be able to claim he was the best goalkeeper in the world.
However since moving to Stamford Bridge, back to his parent club Chelsea, he has flattered to deceive.
The Belgian goalkeeper is obviously talented, but between not convincing Chelsea fans with his attitude and the constant links to Real Madrid, he is not performing well enough.
Real Madrid fans watching might wonder, after Messi’s low shot from an angle nutmeg Courtois and send Barcelona ahead in the third minute why they should splash out on him.
Then for the second goal, perhaps a goalkeeper of Courtois’ class, might have hoped to get more of a hand on Dembele’s effort. He got a small touch on it, enough to deflect it past Rudiger on the line but not enough to stop it going in.
Early in the second half he passed the ball straight to Luis Suarez, who could have scored the third, but the keeper recovered to deny him.
Then Messi, almost as if he was taking the mick, rammed the third through Courtois’ legs again. Time for Chelsea to cash in?
3. A night that could launch Dembele’s Barca career
On Saturday as Barcelona beat Malaga 2-0, Dembele ignited his engines. Here at Camp Nou, in Barcelona’s biggest game of the seasons so far, it was time for take-off.
Dembele’s season had been a disaster until this week, but this is the sort of night that could launch a player’s career.
Of course, at €145million, you could argue that Dembele’s career is already in the stratosphere, but only numerically rather than based on performances and delivery.
The 20-year-old will make mistakes in the future, he will stumble, he will slip up. But he is learning.
And against Chelsea he enjoyed his biggest and best moment in a Barcelona shirt.
Messi cut the ball across to Dembele in the box and with a vicious strike he slammed the ball into the top left corner for his first Barcelona goal.
The Frenchman then made a superb tackle on Alonso in the box to deny Alonso when he was poised to strike—defensive diligence another aspect of the game he has been blasted for in some quarters.
Dembele’s critics have been vociferous but they had to quieten down after this, the only sound was the munching of humble pie.
4. Bad luck for Chelsea
Unlike Manchester United’s pathetic capitulation against Sevilla on Tuesday night, Chelsea gave this a good go.
Antonio Conte selected Olivier Giroud up front and even after Messi struck early on, Chelsea showed they weren’t going to sit back and soak up pressure.
They created chances, with the front three of Willian, Hazard and Giroud genuinely dangerous.
The French hitman was a particular menace, causing Gerard Pique no end of trouble and Chelsea used him to play off well.
Alonso struck the post, the third time they hit the woodwork in this tie after Willian’s double in the first leg, and then Giroud was brought down in the area for what could have been a penalty.
Sometimes a little bit of luck is all that’s missing, and for Chelsea, this was that.
If Courtois keeps out Messi’s opener, as he usually would, if the referee sees one moment differently, everything might have changed.
5. Barcelona fans listen to broken Gomes
In the week ahead of this game, Panenka magazine published a quite astonishing interview with Andre Gomes, in which the player said he was going through “hell”.
The Portuguese playmaker said he was too afraid to leave his house because people would look at him and he would feel ashamed, for his poor performances at the club.
When Sergio Busquets picked up a knock and had to come off in the second half, Gomes was called upon by Ernesto Valverde, who called him “brave” in the build-up to this game.
Barcelona fans roared Gomes onto the field and chanted his name, showing the 55 million euro man that they heard what he had to say and will support him.
It made a stark difference to the last time Gomes appeared at Camp Nou, as a substitute against Atletico Madrid — when he was whistled by his own supporters.
If Gomes can rebuild his confidence then he could have a big impact in the weeks to come as Barcelona aim to complete a third treble.