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Dec 26, 2014 12:45 PM GMT
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Barca take control

Barcelona have taken control of their Champions League second-round tie with Bayer Leverkusen after securing a 3-1 lead at the BayArena.

• Champions League gallery Photo Gallery
• Guardiola explains Pique absence

Barca, who were without Xavi and Gerard Pique, struggled to break down a resolute Leverkusen side in the first half until Lionel Messi released Alexis Sanchez to fire the opener shortly before the break.

Leverkusen had shown little inclination to attack in the first 45 minutes, but they adopted a more positive approach in the second and were level through a Michal Kadlec header on 52 minutes. That lead, though, did not last long as Sanchez collected a pass before dancing around the goalkeeper and slotting home.

Both sides had chances in the aftermath, but Barca struck an important goal in the 88th minute when Messi turned in from a Dani Alves centre. The result means Leverkusen would have to score three times at the Camp Nou to have any chance of progressing.

In the evening's other game, Lyon gained the advantage in their tie with APOEL Nicosia as they won 1-0 at home courtesy of a deflected goal from Alexandre Lacazette.

APOEL adopted a defensive approach in France that appeared to be paying off until Lacazette struck in the 58th minute.

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