Barcelona made Champions League history Tuesday night after they overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit to record a memorable 4-0 win over AC Milan as they leaped into the Champions League quarterfinals with a 4-2 aggregate win.
The Catalans needed to get things going early and so they did with only five minutes on the clock. Xavi Hernandez, making his return from a thigh injury, played a one-two with Lionel Messi with the Argentine curling in a brilliant strike from the age of the area.
Milan were on the backfoot for large parts of the first half and their resistance against Barca’s second was broken five minutes before the interval. Massimo Ambrosini lost possession in midfield and the Blaugrana duly capitalized with Iniesta slipping the ball to Messi. The mercurial Argentine created some space for himself before drilling low into the far post past Abbiati to make it 2-0 and draw the teams level on aggregate.
Barca picked from where they left in the second half with Messi testing Abbiati immediately after the restart. The Nou Camp would turn into a delirium in the 55th minute. Xavi’s pass found David Villa on the right and the former Valencia man shifted the ball onto his favoured left foot before finishing emphatically to put Barca ahead in the tie. The importance of the goal was emphasized with Villa’s celebration.
Gerard Pique cut off a goal bound effort from Mathieu Flamini and Jordi Alba also blocked Robinho as Milan looked for the all important goal. Barca killed off the tie in added time when Alba ran the length of the pitch to slot in Alexis Sanche’z cross and finish a memorable comeback for Barcelona.
Barcelona were joined into the last eight by Galatasaray who beat Schalke 3-2 at the Veltins Arena in Germany. Roman Neustadter gave the Germans the lead in the 18th minute but two goals before the interval from Hamit Altintop and Burak Yilmaz put the Turks in the driving seat. Michel Fernandez Bastos drew level for Schalke in the 63rd minute but the Bundesliga side were still short having let Galatasaray score two away goals. Umut Bulut put the final nail on Schalke’s Champions League hopes in injury time as the Istanbul outfit’s sealed qualification into the quarters for the first time in 12 years.
Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Malaga and Porto will fight for the remaining two slots on Wednesday night fixtures. Bayern host Arsenal at the Allianz Arena holding a 3-1 lead. The Gunners’ hopes of pulling their own comeback suffered a major blow with news that both Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski will miss out due to injuries.
Bayern on the other hand will miss the services of Franck Ribery who is injured while Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boaten are suspended. Arsenal have failed to beat the Bundesliga Champions-elect in the last five encounters.
Porto carry a narrow one goal lead to Spain to face Malaga.
The teams that have already qualified for the quarters include Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona and Galatasaray.The quarterfinals draw will be made on Friday.
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