Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Magic comeback!

THEY reckon Lionel Messi can walk on water in these parts.

After the Argentine’s world record 91 goals in a calendar year in 2012, he made claim to the title of best player to ever play the beautiful game.
And the Barcelona maestro was the saviour in Catalonia again last night as he twice tip-toed through the AC Milan defence — and in the process trampled all over their Champions League dreams.
The four-time World Player of the Year’s brilliant first-half double set up a stunning turnaround against Milan as Barca became the first team in the competition to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit without an away goal.
Messi’s 52nd and 53rd goals of the season took him past Ruud van Nistelrooy and into second place on the all-time Champions League scoring charts. He has 58 goals, with only Real Madrid legend Raul ahead of him on 71
But it was left to David Villa to grab the crucial third before Jordi Alba sealed Barca’s passage through to the quarter-finals in injury-time.
Arsenal target Villa said: “We believed we could do it from the first minute — in fact, from the final whistle of the last game.
“To have that belief combined with hard work is how you achieve things. We were fired up and the early goal helped us.”
Alba added: “Milan only needed a goal but we knew how to handle the game.”
Milan’s plans to defend their 2-0 first-leg lead at the Nou Camp were undone after just five minutes as Barca found top gear.
Messi played a one-two with Xavi on the edge of the box and, surrounded by white Milan shirts and with almost no back-lift, he found the top corner.
Milan occasionally threatened on the counter-attack as they looked for Stephan El Shaarawy — but he twice shot weakly at Victor Valdes.
Barcelona had penalty claims turned down when Pedro was bundled over by Ignazio Abate.
Milan keeper Christian Abbiati then made an incredible save from Andres Iniesta, pushing his fierce drive on to the bar, with Messi heading the rebound wide.
Xavi forced Abbiati into a full-length save from an angled drive.
But the game’s crucial moment arrived on 37 minutes as M’Baye Niang ran on to Javier Mascherano’s misplaced header only to hit the foot of Valdes’ post.
And from the next attack Barca were two up as Messi received Iniesta’s pass and thudded the ball past Abbiati in a flash.
Villa got his moment in the spotlight when Xavi slipped him in on the right edge of the area on 55 minutes. He shifted the ball on to his left foot and coolly bent home.
But Barca were still just one goal from going out and Mathieu Flamini nearly flicked the ball past Valdes only for Gerard Pique to intercept.
Then substitute Robinho thought that he had put Milan back in front on away goals when he connected with Bojan’s low centre with eight minutes left only for Alba’s sliding block to deny him.
Alba then ran Milan out of the competition as he sprinted 60 yards to clip home the fourth.

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