Lionel Messi has revealed that Barcelona 'knew' Arsenal would falter and eventually break in the second half of their Champions League last-16 tie last night.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner scored twice late in the second half to help give the Catalan club a commanding lead against Arsene Wenger's side.
Messi opened the scoring with less than 20 minutes to go when he rounded off a swift Barcelona counter-attack, before he slotted home from the penalty spot after Mathieu Flamini bought down the 28-year-old less than a minute after coming on as a substitute.
Messi has now scored eight goals against the Gunners - including four in their tie at the Nou Camp back in 2010 - but his brace last night was the first time he'd scored past Petr Cech in more than 10 hours of football.
Arsenal were able to frustrate Barcelona in the first half to keep the tie goalless, but Messi insists he and his team-mates knew it was a matter of time before the north London club conceded.
"The first half they did well and physically they are very strong," he said. "We knew that they would get worse in the second half, that they wouldn't hold out.
"That's how it turned out and we found the spaces to score."
The Gunners now face a serious uphill battle to make it beyond the last-16 for the first time since 2010, ahead of the second leg in Barcelona in March.
Arsene Wenger admitted after the game that his side had been 'very average' during the 90 minutes at the Emirates Stadium, and gave his side just a 5% chance of making it through to the quarter-final stage.
He said: "We were naive and that’s what was frustrating. It makes it [qualifying] very sticky, if not impossible. We have to go there and fight. They were better than us. There’s no shame to say that.
“It will be very difficult but we have to try and do our best. It’s 95 percent for them and five per cent for us. But you never know.”
Next up for the Gunners is a Premier League showdown against Manchester United as they look to continue their bid for a first league title since 2004.