Iwobi sparkles for Arsenal in Champions League defeat to Barcelona

Nigerian youngster, Alex Iwobi, was a consolatory bright spot as Arsenal lost 3-1 to Barcelona at Nou Camp to exit the UEFA Champions League.

Delightful goals from Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi saw Barcelona through to the quarter-finals on Wednesday and Arsenal out in the round of 16 yet again.

This marks the sixth straight season the Gunners have departed Europe’s top club competition at the same stage.

But Arsenal fans can take some positive from the performance of Iwobi, 19, who made his first start in the competition and appeared not at all intimidated by the spectacle.

Not even the imposing atmosphere of the Camp Nou could put Iwobi off his game, and that should provide a bit of consolation following another poor result.

Composed in possession and always eager to attack, Iwobi impressed throughout his 73 minutes on the pitch. The youngster combined frequently with Mesut Ozil and especially Danny Welbeck, showing good passing and movement in the final third.

His best came early in the second period, coincidentally as Arsenal enjoyed their best spell of the match.

In the 49th minute, Alexis Sanchez laid off for Iwobi, whose shot deflected into the side netting, winning a corner. Thirteen minutes later, the Nigerian latched on to a pass from Hector Bellerin and pulled back for Sanchez, who saw his shot blocked.

Then, shortly before he made way for Olivier Giroud, Iwobi slotted through to Welbeck, who fired an early shot off the crossbar from a tight angle.

With more precise finishing, Iwobi might have scored a goal and assisted another. As it was, he’ll have to be content with an encouraging performance on the biggest of stages.

“It’s something a 19 year-old will always dream of (playing in the Nou Camp),” Iwobi said per BBC Sport. “It was an amazing experience and hopefully I will have more of these in the future.”

Watching Iwobi from the stands was Nigeria legend, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, who is uncle to the young midfielder.

He said: “So happy watching Alex Iwobi (nephew) on the big stage. I’m very much impressed with his performance.”

Iwobi has been invited by Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia, for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Egypt.