Barcelona favourites to win the Champions League after a 4-0 demolition of AC Milan at Nou Camp
Barcelona made history Tuesday night as they became the first team to overturn a 2-0 goal deficit against AC Milan and book their place in the last eight. With just five minutes on the clock, it was a glimpse of magic from Messi that opened the scoring and the Argentinian’s cool finish before half time doubled the home side’s lead, making it 2-2 on aggregate.
LA Liga leaders had most of the possession from the kick off as it usually is the case at Nou Camp, and nervy Milan players were not opposing any danger when on the ball as they were easily dispossessed by Pique and Mascherano. Constant pressing from Barcelona soon paid off, when Xavi’s pass found Messi, who, despite having four defenders around him, found half a yard and put the ball at the top corner. One down and one more to go – it was game on.
Andres Iniesta kept the Barca momentum going as his solo powerful effort forced Christian Abbiati to make a world-class save. The Milan keeper was at full stretch to keep the ball out; Messi was on the end of the rebound but his header sent the ball towards side-netting .
A packed Nou Camp with 90,000 buzzing fans held their breath on the 38th minute when 18-year-old striker Niang had the opportunity to score for the visitors. The Frenchman found himself one-to-one with Valdez on a counterattack and his low-driven shot passed the Barca keeper, but only to hit the post to deny the youngster. If AC Milan were to have scored then, it would have left Barcelona with a tough task of needing to score four in order to progress.
A minute later on the other end of the pitch, Messi didn’t make any mistakes with his chance. Hard-working Iniesta gained possession from Ambrosini and fed the ball to Lionel Messi, who once again only had minimal space and minimal time to work with, but the experienced striker drilled the ball into the near post: 2-2 on aggregate.
The last action of the first half was Flamini picking up an unnecessary yellow card after a sliding challenge on Pedro, who was too fast for the Frenchman.
Second half and Milan players had a sense of frustration and impatience about them as Philippe Mexes got carded for a challenge on Messi. Whilst the visitors were trying to regroup, David Villa struck another goal for Catalans. It was the usual duo of Xavi and Iniesta setting up Villa for his left-foot finish.
Another half left to play, Milan made a double change bringing on former Premier League players Robinho and Sulley Muntari for Niang and Ambrosini. However, it was the other former Premier League duo that caused nerves for the Barca defence, with Kevin Boateng linking up with Flamini, whose flick inside ten yards was dealt with by Pique.
With ten minutes remaining, Barca strengthened their defence by bringing on the 35-year-old veteran Puyol for Mascherano. Robinho’s first attempt on goal was blocked by Alba, much to the frustration of the away team.
With three minutes added on, Alba had just enough time to get himself on the scoresheet. Alexis made an instant impact coming off the bench to set up the fourth goal, as he slid the ball into Alba who was racing down the pitch to get at the end of pass and finish off in style.
In the other game, the Turkish side Galatasaray knocked out the German’s Shalke ’04 in a thrilling 4-3 aggregate scoreline, as they still remain in contention to lift the cup at Wembley.
Umida Ibrahimova, football correspondent
Barcelona 4-0 AC Milan (4-2 on aggregate)