Barca, Lyon make winning starts in knockout phase

ROB HARRIS AP Sports Writer Published:

LONDON (AP) -- Lionel Messi helped Barcelona shake off its domestic troubles in Spain by inspiring the defending champions to a 3-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen in the round of 16 of the Champions League.

In the other first leg on Tuesday, Lyon beat APOEL Nicosia 1-0.

Messi set up the first-half opener for Alexis Sanchez, who added another after the break before the Argentina forward rounded off the victory with his 38th goal of the season.

It might be the only league Barcelona wins this season, having fallen 10 points behind Real Madrid in Spain.

Alexandre Lacazette's 58th-minute goal gave Lyon a slight edge against APOEL, which is the first Cypriot team to reach the Champions League knockout phase.