Willian and Lionel Messi scored as Chelsea and Barcelona finished 1-1 after an absorbing first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday.
Chelsea's outstanding performer Willian could hardly believe his bad luck as twice before half-time he rattled the woodwork.
But the Brazilian was finally rewarded for his persistence in the 62nd minute when he fired Chelsea into the lead on an electrifying night at Stamford Bridge.
Barcelona's talisman Messi had fired blanks on eight previous occasions against Chelsea, most notably in a shock semi-final defeat six years ago, and he rarely had a glimpse of goal on his ninth meeting with the Londoners.
When home defender Andreas Christensen suffered a rush of blood in the 75th minute, however, Messi pounced.
It edged the tie towards Barcelona, although they could count themselves fortunate after being out-manouvered against a Chelsea side who, apart from one lapse, played a 'perfect' game according to manager Antonio Conte.
Unbeaten La Liga leaders Barcelona enjoyed suffocating possession, especially in the first half, but despite the probings of Messi and Andres Iniesta, they could provide precious little ammunition for striker Luis Suarez.
A rivalry that had been dormant for six years resumed with a gripping game of cat and mouse.
Barcelona zipped the ball around in eye-pleasing style but apart from Paulinho's wasteful header they struggled to lure Chelsea into mistakes.
Despite spending long periods diligently shutting doors, the hosts were the more clinical in possession, with Eden Hazard and Willian both menacing outlets.
Willian fully justified his starting berth after being used chiefly as a substitute this season and could have been celebrating a stunning hat-trick.
In the 34th minute Paulinho lost the ball and as Chelsea worked it to Willian, he shuffled to his right and sent a curling right-footer thudding against the post.
Shortly before halftime Willian again proved elusive but this time the opposite post rescued Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who was a mere spectator for both attempts.
Conte resembled a manic orchestra conductor throughout the match, going through his full repertoire of gesticulations.
He was pumping his fists with joy midway through the second half as Hazard teased the Barca defence and fed Willian who engineered a yard of space before firing a low right-foot shot inside the left-hand post.
Chelsea deserved their lead and even threatened a second goal before young defender Andreas Christensen betrayed his relative inexperience with a moment of madness.
The 21-year-old's aimless ball across his own area was seized upon by Iniesta and when he cut it back to Messi the Argentine duly delivered to send Barca's travelling fans wild.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the hosts and, although they avoided any more damage, they will need a repeat of their 2012 exploits to keep alive their European hopes.
Bayern romp home 5-0 after Besiktas suffer early red card
Bayern Munich, helped by two typical Thomas Mueller goals and two from Robert Lewandowski, romped to a 5-0 home win over Besiktas in their Champions League tie after the Turkish champions played nearly the whole match with 10 men.
Besiktas defender Domagoj Vida was given a straight red card for tripping Lewandowski outside the penalty area in the 16th minute, the defining moment in the round of 16, first leg tie.
Mueller, inelegant yet always effective, broke the deadlock with a miskick two minutes before halftime to break Besiktas's resistance.
Kingsley Coman and Mueller added two more before Lewandowski helped himself to a late brace, virtually assuring the Bavarians of a seventh successive quarter-final appearance.
"We began nervously and couldn't find our rhythm," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes after his side equalled a club record of 14 consecutive wins in all competitions. "The turning point was the sending-off and the goal just before the break."
Besiktas won all three away games in the group stage and came with the clear intention of attacking Bayern but their plans were torpedoed by Vida's red card.
A poor pass from Atiba Hutchinson went straight to Lewandowski, who burst past Vida and was tripped as he ran at goal with only goalkeeper Fabri to beat.
Besiktas could still have snatched a priceless goal minutes later when Vagner Love got past two Bayern defenders to give himself a clear shot on goal but his effort was high and wide.
Bayern then laid siege to Besiktas and Fabri denied them the opening goal with a superb one-handed save at point-blank range to turn away Mats Hummels's header.
Having survived another scare when Ricardo Quaresma burst down the right and forced Sven Ulreich to save at his near post, Bayern broke the deadlock two minutes before halftime.
Coman got to the byline and crossed, Alaba touched it on and the ball fell to Mueller who turned, failed to make proper contact but poked it home.
It was a typically scrappy effort from a player once described on the German Football Federation's Twitter feed as having the elegance of a swan on ice skates.
There was an air of inevitability about the second half as Bayern took complete control.
Coman sidefooted in from Lewandowski's pass in the 53rd minute before Mueller struck again in the 66th, this time sticking his leg out to divert Joshua Kimmich's cross past Fabri.
Lewandowski got in on the act by snapping up a rebound in the 79th minute, before Mueller set up the Poland striker's second and Bayern's fifth.
The second leg takes place in Turkey on March 14.