CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Barcelona through to semi-finals with minimal fuss

Barcelona have booked themselves a spot in the Champions League semi-finals for the fifth successive season courtesy of a 3-1 victory over a moderate AC Milan at the Nou Camp tonight.
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Barcelona have booked themselves a spot in the Champions League semi-finals for the fifth successive season courtesy of a 3-1 victory over a moderate AC Milan at the Nou Camp tonight.

Pep Guardiola’s men produced a fairly standard performance at home following the scoreless draw at the San Siro last week which puts them into the final four where they will meet the winner of tomorrow night’s Chelsea versus Benfica tie.

Lionel Messi scored his 50th and 51st Champions League goals to become the youngest player ever to achieve the feat as the Catalan giants controlled proceedings with over 60% of possession and just over 20 shots on goal to Milan’s 3.

Barcelona were their usual bright selves early and managed to get a penalty inside 10 minutes when Messi was brought down in the area by Luca Antonini after he had squared it for Xavi. The ball found its way back into the path of attacking maestro Messi only for the Milan defender to produce a poor sliding challenge which upended the Barcelona ace who dusted himself off to slot past Christian Abbiati’s right hand with the Rossoneri gloveman doing everything in his power to stop the pinpoint effort.

With their first shot on target, Milan managed to get themselves back in the contest when former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic played a clever through ball for Antonio Nocerino who coolly netted past Victor Valdes in the 32nd minute for his 10th goal of the season, giving the home side a scare.

Late in the first half, referee Bjorn Kuipers awarded a second spot-kick to the home side - which was questionable - for a shirt tug by Alessandro Nesta on Sergio Busquets with Messi stepping up to the spot again, this time sending Abbiati the wrong way to make it 2-1.

Milan’s resolve was set to be tested even further just eight minutes into the second half when Messi’s effort from outside the area deflected off Philippe Mexes and into the path of Andres Iniesta who took a fine touch on the left side of the box before finishing expertly past Abbiati to give Barcelona a two-goal cushion.

Early in the second half, Milan were desperately unlucky not to be awarded a penalty of their own when Javier Mascherano appeared to have brought down Ibrahimovic and then Dani Alves felled Robinho but nothing came for the Italians who certainly missed out on a free attempt on goal from the match officials.

With about 20 minutes to go, it was all academic as the Blaugrana simply went about their business to snuff out any Milan advances whilst missing a few chances of their own late in the piece as they set about trying to capture a fifth European Cup.

UEFA Champions League quarter-final – second leg

Barcelona (ESP): 3 (Lionel Messi (p) 11’/(p) 41’, Andres Iniesta 53’) *Barcelona wins 3-1 on aggregate
AC Milan (ITA): 1 (Antonio Nocerino 32’)

Nou Camp, Barcelona – 94,629

Yellow cards: BAR - Javier Mascherano 66’, Isaac Cuenca 86’
MIL - Luca Antonini 10’, Alessandro Nesta 40’, Clarence Seedorf 40’, Robinho 77’, Philippe Mexes 90+1’. Maxi Lopez 90+2', Antonio Nocerino 90+3'

 
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