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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL 1st LEG: Messi scores brace as Real Madrid reduced to ten men

Barcelona scored two second half goals in a 2-0 win at Real Madrid who had both Pepe dismissed and coach Jose Mourinho sent to the stands. A less than enthralling opening 30 minutes quickly turned into a tempestuous affair both on and off the pitch.

With Madrid content to pack midfield and deny their visitor's space it was all one for the purists until the final 15 minutes of the first half when the game became more open, the tackles began to fly and players began to put pressure on the German referee Wolfgang Stark.

Up to that point Barca had the better chances with David Villa twice going close and Xavi having an effort saved, and then on the stroke of half-time Madrid's Ronaldo saw his swerving shot hit the keeper in the chest and bounce to safety.

The blue-touch paper had been lit however and there were scuffles as the team's left the field at the break with Barca's reserve keeper Jose Pinto seemingly shown red.

A more open second half became ugly as player's feigned injury and appealed to the referee to show red at every opportunity.

And then on 60 minutes for the fourth consecutive meeting between these two fierce rivals Real went down to ten men. Pepe went in with his foot high on Daniel Alves and in the white hot atmosphere of the Bernabeu the German official produced red - slightly harsh decision but almost inevitable considering what had gone on before.

Mourinho clearly said something to the fourth official and was directed to the stands for his troubles.

Barca simply played their passing game waiting their chance against the reduced numbers of Madrid. And on 76 minutes the goal arrived.

Substitute Ibrahim Afellay skipped past the full back and Lionel Messi finished at the near post.

If that was functional strike the killer second was a brilliant solo effort. The Argentinean collected the ball inside the Real half and seemingly glided past the challenges before a nonchalant finish past Iker Casillas.

A stunning strike to light up an ugly encounter which has set the Catalans on course for a Champions League final appearance at Wembley.

Referee: Wolfgang Stark (GER)

Venue: Santiago Bernabéu Attendance: 78,000

Real Madrid scorers: Barcelona scorers: Messi 76, 87

REAL MADRID 01 Casillas 03 Pepe (red card) 04 Sergio Ramos (yellow card) 12 Marcelo 17 Arbeloa (yellow card) 18 Albiol 07 Ronaldo 10 Diarra 14 Alonso 22 Di Maria 23 Ozil (Adebayor 46 (yellow card)

Substitutes 13 Adan, 19 Garay, 08 Kaka, 11 Granero, 06 Adebayor, 09 Benzema, 20 Higuain

BARCELONA 01 Valdes 02 Daniel (yellow card) 03 Pique 05 Puyol 06 Xavi 14 Mascherano (yellow card) 15 Keita 16 Busquets 07 Villa (Roberto 90) 10 Messi 17 Pedrito (Afellay 71)

Substitutes 13 Pinto, 18 Milito, 20 Afellay, 26 Fontas, 28 Roberto, 30 Thiago, 11 Jeffren



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Dave Williams

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