Magical Messi leads Barca to Quarterfinals, Historic win over Milan 4-0 in Champions League

Magical Messi leads Barca to Quarterfinals, Historic win over Milan 4-0 in Champions League

(AP) Messi leads Barca over Milan 4-0 and into QF
Associated Press
Hailed as perhaps soccer’s greatest team ever, Barcelona faced a challenge no club had overcome: advancing in the Champions League after a 2-0 first-leg loss on the road.

Lionel Messi & Co. came through in spectacular fashion with another record-setting night.

Messi started the revival with a pair of first-half goals, and Barcelona overwhelmed AC Milan 4-0 Tuesday to reach its sixth straight Champions League quarterfinal with a 4-2 aggregate win.

Messi scored in the fifth and 40th minutes, and David Villa and Jordi Alba added second-half goals.

Before a screaming crowd of 99,786 at Camp Nou, Europe’s largest stadium, Messi scored his first goal to goalkeeper Christian Abbiati’s right with curling left-footed shot into the upper corner from 17 yards between two defenders. The goal moved Messi past Ruud van Nistelrooy into sole possession of second on the Champions League career list with 57, trailing only Raul Gonzalez’s 71.

Messi then scored his second goal to Abbiati’s left with a low 19-yard shot after Andres Iniesta stole the ball from Massimo Ambrosini.

Villa put Barcelona ahead in the series in the 55th minute with a 14-yard shot after Cristian Zapata’s weak clearance was intercepted by Javier Mascherano, and Kevin Constant missed a sliding tackle on Xavi’s through pass to the forward.

Alba sealed the win in the second minute of stoppage time when he raced the length of the field on a counterattack after Messi stole the ball and passed to Alexis Sanchez on the break.

AC Milan, a seven-time champion, won the first leg at San Siro on Feb. 20 and nearly got a valuable away goal in the 38th minute, but 18-year-old forward M’baye Niang hit a post with an open shot after a sloppy headed backpass by Mascherano. If Niang had tied the game 1-1, Barcelona would have needed at least three more goals at that point to advance because away goals are a tiebreaker.

Messi, the four-time FIFA Player of the Year, got his 18th multigoal game of the season and increased his season goals total to 53.

Led by the 25-year-old Messi, Barcelona is seeking its fourth Champions League title in eight years and is closing in on its sixth Spanish league championship in nine seasons. Barcelona is 16-0-4 at home in the Champions League since a loss to Ruben Kazan in October 2009.

Milan lost by four goals for the first time since a 4-0 Champions League defeat at Manchester United in March 2010.

In the night’s other match, Galatasaray won 3-2 at Schalke to advance on 4-3 aggregate and reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001.

After Roman Neustaedter put Schalke ahead in the 17th minute, Galatasaray took a 2-1 lead when Hamit Altintop scored against his former team in the 37th and Burak Yilmaz got a goal in the 42nd. Michel Bastos scored for the hosts in the 63rd, leaving the Turkish team ahead on away goals, and Umut Bulut ended any doubt when he scored for Galatasaray in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Real Madrid, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain also are in Friday’s quarterfinal draw. In the final second-round matches Wednesday, Arsenal tries to overturn a 3-1 deficit at Bayern Munich and Porto goes to Malaga with a 1-0 lead.

If Arsenal is eliminated, England won’t have a team in the last eight for the first time since the 1995-96 season.