Barcelona thrash Milan to reach quarters




A fired-up Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to a sensational Champions League comeback against AC Milan with two goals in a thrilling 4-0 home victory today to help the Spaniards reach the quarter-finals.

Barcelona thrash AC Milan to reach quarters

Barcelona thrash AC Milan to reach quarters

All-but written off after a surprise 2-0 reverse at Milan’s San Siro stadium in last month’s last 16, first leg, a rampant Barca came storming back at the seven-times European Cup winners to win 4-2 on aggregate on a memorable night at the Nou Camp.

The early goal they desperately needed arrived when Messi exchanged passes with Xavi on the edge of the Milan area and curled a brilliant shot into the top corner that left goalkeeper Christian Abbiati rooted to the spot.

Milan were under increasing pressure and Abbiati palmed an Iniesta volley against the crossbar eight minutes later before a long-range Xavi strike flew narrowly wide.

Barca’s intensity dipped as the half wore on and Milan came within a whisker of snatching the goal that would have meant the hosts needed to score at least three times to go through.

Barcelona centre back Javier Mascherano misjudged a header and Milan striker M’Baye Niang raced clear but his low shot crashed back off the post with home keeper Victor Valdes beaten.

Moments later Barca doubled their lead on the night and drew level at 2-2 on aggregate. Andres Iniesta won the ball in midfield and fed Messi who smashed a low drive past Abbiati from just outside the penalty area.

Barca ruthlessly dominated the Italians, who struggled to get the ball out of their own half for long periods, and David Villa struck a third for the hosts 10 minutes after the break before Jordi Alba killed off Milan with a breakaway goal in the second minute of added time.

Barca are the first team in the Champions League to ever overturn a two-goal first leg deficit without the benefit of an away goal while only four sides had successfully fought back from a deficit of more than one goal.

Barca can now look ahead to the last eight after keeping alive their dream of a third European crown in five years and will find out their opponents in Saturday’s draw (NZT).

Milan, third in Serie A, return home to focus on qualifying for the Champions League again next season after coming remarkably close to upsetting the pre-tournament favourites.

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