Messi on the spot as Barca cruise past Milan; Rossoneri become another Catalan victim
Lionel Messi, predictably, was the hero again for Barcelona. His pair of penalties secured a Champions League quarter-final win over AC Milan at the Nou Camp.
Milan were briefly on level terms after Antonio Nocerino’s cool finish in the first half, but after the break, Andres Iniesta added a third and Milan couldn’t muster a response.
After a goalless draw in the first leg Barcelona reverted back to type, with the slick brand of football we have become accustomed to watching, cutting through the Milan defence with regular ease throughout the night.
The Milan veterans clearly used up all their energy in the first leg; they looked leg-weary and slow to react in the opening exchanges.
The way Barcelona started the game, it seemed inevitable they were going to get their breakthrough sooner rather than later. With just over ten minutes on the clock, Luca Antonini’s clumsy foul on Lionel Messi left the referee Bjorn Kuipers, with very little option but to award a spot-kick.
Messi slotted home the penalty to bring his tally to 50 Champions League goals, joint third on the all-time list with Thierry Henry.
The Rossoneri didn’t panic – well, they actually didn’t do anything. Sitting back at the Camp Nou normally only results in one thing, defeat.
After not being in the game at all, Milan got a goal; Zlatan Ibrahimovic played a through-ball for Antonio Nocerino to finish past Victor Valdes for his 10th goal of the season.
The home side looked stunned and it is in situations like this that you do not give the opposition an easy avenue back into the game. However, the opposite happened; Alessandro Nesta, one of the most experienced defenders in the world, decided to pull Busquets’ shirt with both hands and gift Barcelona another penalty. Foolish.
Messi went for the opposite side this time, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way, to bring his tally to 51 Champions League goals.
The next goal was always going to be crucial, and it went to the home side. A fortunate deflection ended up in the path of Andres Iniesta, who slotted the ball beyond Christian Abbiati.
Milan looked strong in the first leg but they couldn’t prevent the inevitable from happening. We all knew Barcelona would pass them off the park, and they did. A predictable result.
Will Benfica or Chelsea be able to stop them in the semi-final?
Can they become the first side to retain the Champions League?
Ask Jose Mourinho, he will have the answer.