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Leo Messi led FC Barcelona into the last 16 of the Champions League with the opening and final goals against Milan at the Camp Nou tonight. The first was a penalty and the second from a lovely move with Cesc. With Busquets grabbing one more in between the Argentinean’s brace, Milan could only reply with a Piqué own goal just before the break.
The three points ensure Barça are mathematically through to the last 16 of the competition, sitting five points ahead of Milan, who stay in second place.
Penalty and goal
Massimiliano Allegri was true to his words on Tuesday and set up his team with a clear defensive attitude, with 9 or 10 players crammed into the final third of the pitch, Milan were happy to sit deep and wait for Barça from the off. And just as they had in San Siro, Bará found it tough to find the space they need to create chances, as the Italians booted away possession to the hosts without ever venturing into the Barça half.
Barça weren’t making clear chances, but they kept plugging away and when Iniesta carved out a great opening for Neymar, Abate brought the Brazilian down in the box for Messi to step up and fire home the penalty for the opening goal.
Busquets makes it 2-0
Barça continued to dominate possession with Xavi and Iniesta hogging the ball, whilst Neymar provided the spark – again suffering a foul that led to a goal, with Xavi crossing a free kick in for Busquets - enjoying a great game -to head home and double Barça’s lead.
Just as the half looked like ending comfortably, Barça conceded a goal when Kaká crossed from the left and Piqué’s attempted clearance flew into the net – a goal that recalled one against Osasuna in Pamplona a couple of years ago. The goal came just on half time and was a psychological boost to Milan.
More chances, but less clinical
With Balotelli on after the break, and with Kaká pulling the strings, Milan were now looking more ambitious – which also of course left them more vulnerable at the back. The game was opening up now, with chances – which weren’t taken – at both ends.
Messi finishes things off
Barça then imposed a more measured pace to the game and Iniesta brought a good save from Abbiati before Neymar nearly broughtthe house down with a great individual effort, beating four defenders before shooting high. Alexis could also have made it three, but it was Messi who rounded off the scoring, latching onto a brilliant one-two with Cesc - who’d come on for Iniesta - to fire home and ensure a spot in the last 16.
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