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UEFA Champions League
April 3, 2012
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: B. Kuipers
• Attendance: 94629
Barcelona win Aggregate 3 - 1
With that, it's time for me to call it at evening. Thanks for joining us here on Goal.com. See you again.
From Ben Hayward in Camp Nou: It's all over. Huge cheers here, and the Barca anthem blares out in this famous old stadium. Controversy or not, Guardiola's side were too good for Milan and, let's be honest, they are too good for most teams here at Camp Nou. For the fifth year in a row, Barcelona are in the Champions League semi-finals. And for the fifth year in a row, Milan are not.
I've been inundated with your tweets tonight. Thanks for all of your input, I wish I could have used them all.
Barcelona progress to a fifth straight Champions League semi final. Yet another record for the Catalans. They will face Chelsea or Benfica in that game, with the Londoners holding a slender 1-0 lead at present.
The final whistle is blown. In the end, it was comfortable for Barcelona, but they had the Milan defence to thank for gifting them two penalties in the first half. In scoring each of those, Lionel Messi has become the third highest goalscorer in Champions League history, and now stands on a record 14 goals for this campaign.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Antonio Nocerino
90' + 3'
Another booking for Milan. Antonio Nocerino trips Thiago, and is rightly cautioned. The Milan team cuts a rather dejected bunch here. Were it not for those two penalties, they could well have been the ones celebrating tonight.
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Maxi López
90' + 2'
Philippe Mexes is booked for a foul on the edge of his own area. Messi eyes up one final chance at a third goal, but his curling free-kick is just over. You can't have it all, Leo.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Philippe Mexes
Messi would dealy love a hat-trick here. He jinks his way into the box, beating challenges at will, but eventually finds a wall of white shirts in front of him. He retreats reluctantly, to wild applause from the home crowd.
Milan have the ball in the Barca half, but find themselves surrounded whenever they reach the final third. It's been a thoroughly professional display from the home side tonight, and they are closing this one out comfortably.
That really should have been 4. Substitute Adriano is all alone in the penalty area, but the former Seville man goes for the near-post and skews the ball wide. That was a left-back's finish, and no mistake.
Yellow Card Cuenca
Barcelona are the team that look most likely to score in these final minutes. Dani Alves almost picks out Messi, who is on a hat-trick, but a diving Abbiati is out quickly to block.
Ah. What a shame. Cuenca puts a blot on his night by pulling back Philippe Mexes and earning a booking.
Isaac Cuenca has continued to be lively all night, and drives in another dangerous cross that Abbiati does well to smother. The 20 year-old might have been seen as a gamble from Guardiola before kick-off, but it's one that has paid off handsomely.
He must not have been fit. After barely 13 minutes, Pato is hauled off by Allegri, and Maxi Lopez is on. That is a major disappointment for the Rossoneri.
Milan are preparing their final change. It's Alexandre Pato who is coming off.....
A nice idea from Milan, as Aquilani floats a ball over to Nocerino, whose volleyed cross is cut out by the Barca defence. However, there is no white shirt following up, and the move comes to an end when Ambrosini cuts across Thiago. There's a lack of cutting edge from Milan here, although that is mostly to do with Barcelona's defending.
Frustration for Ibrahimovic as Ambrosini overhits a pass forward, and the ball runs out of play. The Swede has cut a lonely figure at times tonight, at a ground where he so badly wanted to prove himself.
Yellow Card Robinho
Another change for Barcelona. Cesc Fabregas is replaced by Seyodu Keita. That looks a defensive change, but with just over ten minutes to go, Barca don't need to attempt anything silly.
Robinho ruins some lovely skill from Iniesta, which was drawing plenty of Ole's from the crowd, by casually tripping the Spaniard. Ole's turn to boos.
From Ben Hayward in Camp Nou: In the Champions League era, no team has yet made five semi-finals in a row (Barca, Madrid and Juve have all been to four in a row). But that looks set to change tonight.
Gerard Pique looks to have picked up an injury, perhaps a hamstring. He can't continue, and trudges off to be replaced by Adriano.
A sumptuous cross from Ibrahimovic is looking for Aquilani, but Dani Alves is at full stretch to head away the clearance. There are glimmers of hope for Milan, but they need to pull one back sharpish...
Nocerino thinks he has been fouled by Fabregas, but the whistle is not blown. Instead, Puyol brings the ball away and Barca can resume another attack.
Ibrahimovic has dropped very deep to win the ball for Milan, and he is the one pinging balls into the Barca box. Milan may want to address that if they are to find a way back into this tie. They need two goals in order to progress.
Alexandre Pato is on for Milan, replacing Kevin Prince Boateng. What can we expect from the no.7 in these final 20 minutes? Miracles, perhaps?
Wonderful move. Messi takes the ball down with his back to goal, and slides the ball through to Thiago inside the area. The young forward slides his shot beyond Abbiati... and wide of the far post. That was nearly curtains for Milan.
Dani Alves unselfishly tries to play in Messi after bursting into a dangerous position on the edge of the box. The ball is cut out by Antonini. The better decision was to shoot there really.
Yellow Card Javier Mascherano
Javier Mascherano is booked for a sliding challenge that clatters Robinho. He looks surprised at the decision. Nobody else is.
Thiago is looking very lively already, and is looking to ghost into positions on the edge of the box at every opportunity. How Barca find these youngsters, I would love to know.
Barca make their first change. Xavi is coming off to be replaced by 20 year-old Thiago Alcantara. There were doubts over whether Xavi would be fit tonight, but the no.6 has put in a typically faultless hour's work here.
Robinho charges down a clearance from Pique and is in on goal. Victor Valdes makes a splendind save, before play is called back. Robinho is adjudged to have won the ball with his hand there. Seems very harsh on the Brazilian.
The first change for Milan is made. Alberto Aquilani replaces Clarence Seedorf. Big task for the former Liverpool man.
A corner from Seedorf finds Boateng strangely unmarked on the corner of the six yard box. The Ghanaian should do so much better with his header, which sails over the bar. Milan won't get many chances, they need to take them.
Allegri has plenty of attacking options on the bench, including a newly fit Alexandre Pato. With two goals to find, it can't be long before we see a change made.
From Ben Hayward in Camp Nou: They are even more relaxed now. Iniesta has a knack of scoring important goals. And there's another. The Camp Nou crowd takes a deep breath. They're singing now and they think their team has done enough to advance to a record fifth straight semi-final. They're probably right.
You wonder if that goal will take the stuffing out of Milan, who had started the second half in very promising fashion. No sign of a revival yet, as Messi attempts to chip Abbiati from the angle. The ball sails wide, but Milan want the ball at the other end.
Goal Andrés Iniesta Luján
GOOALLL BARCA! It's a lucky break, but Barca will take that. Mexes makes a good challenge to block Messi's shot on the edge of the box, but the ball loops into the path of Andreas Iniesta, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Breathing space for Barcelona, but the goal is harsh on Milan.
A well worked corner sees three Milan players peel away at the back post, totally unmarked. However, all are offside. Warning for Barca.
The ball is back on the Barca carousel, with Iniesta at the heart of it. Eventually, however, Abate sticks out a leg and is able to bring the ball clear, and with some pace. Kevin Prince Boateng forces a corner...
From Ben Hayward inside Camp Nou: Barca fans a little more relaxed since Messi's second penalty, but the Catalans haven't been at their best, they still haven't scored from open play and they will well remember what happened in their group match here against Milan, when they conceded a last-gasp leveller back in September. A repeat of that 2-2 scoreline tonight, and they would be out.
Oooohh! A sumptuous curler from Xavi, which has Abbitai scrambling. The ball is inches from the top corner. A frustrated cry from the home support. I detect a few nerves inside Camp Nou.
Here's a free-kick, however, on the edge of the box...
It seems obvious to say, but the next goal will be absolutely key here. Barca are yet to get into their rhythm here, and after two mintues, that is something of an abnormality.
I'd wager that there are a few more twists and turns coming our way in the next 45 minutes. Milan get us back underway.
That was close you know. Ibrahimovic brings down a long ball expertly, and tangles with Dani Alves in the box. Mascherano sticks out a leg and the striker tumbles to the floor. Nothing given, but to me, that looked like a foul...
The two teams are back out. Time for Milan to make history, or for Barca to take another step towards becoming the first club to retain the Champions League?
Any other predictions to share? I wouldn't write Milan off just yet. Ibrahimovic looks like he has a goal in him for sure...
@DavidKhan3 - I predict a Messi hattrick in a 4-2 win for Barca.
The half time whistle is blown. Barcelona have a 2-1 lead, but one moment of complacency at the back has given Milan a potentially priceless away goal. It's still all to play for in the next 45 minutes....
45' + 1'
... oh dear. Straight into the wall from the Swedish striker.
Ibrahimovic looks like he fancies this...
Milan have a free-kick in a very dangerous position, as Ambrosini is caught by Xavi on the edge of the box...
Almost a first half hat-trick for Messi. He connects to Iniesta's cross with a skidding shot, and Abbiati is down very smartly to save. Barca want this wrapped up quickly.
Penalty Goal Messi
GOOALL BARCA! Messi is again the taker, and strokes the ball to the opposite side of the goal. Barca back in front...
Yellow Card C. Seedorf
Yellow Card Alessandro Nesta
What was Alessandro Nesta doing there. From the corner, the defender has an absolute fistful of Busquets' shirt. A penalty was the only decision that could be made there. Nesta is booked, as is Seedorf for protesting. Milan's hard work has been undone.
Almost a magical response from Messi, the Argentine skipping through three challenges before being stopped by Abate. The ball is worked back to Xavi, whose shot is deflected behind. Corner to Barca.
From Ben Hayward, our man at Camp Nou: The Camp Nou crowd were slightly edgy, and that's why. Such a scoreline puts Milan through - and Barca out. Still a long way to go, however, and the Catalans are now making themselves heard as they attempt to lift their team.
Well, that wasn't in the script. But what a ball from Ibrahimovic against his old club. That was Nocerino's tenth goal of the season, and he may not score a more important one...
Assist Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Goal Antonio Nocerino
GOOAALL MILAN! Out of absolutely nothing, the Rossoneri are back level! Ibrahimovic slides a delightful ball through to Nocerino, who is played onside by the Barca defence. He has time to weight up his shot, before sliding the ball under Victor Valdes into the far corner. Milan are jubilant, and as things stand, the holders are heading out.
Ever so slightly, cynical, that last tweet. It was a definite penalty.
@nishant_pant - A typical UCL match for barcelona....wen things dont go their way...they get their share of penalties....nothing new...
After all that, it's Dani Alves who strikes the free-kick, and it is thumped straight into the Milan wall. As you were.
Clear foul from Ambrosini, who has an arm firmly around Fabregas' waist as the no.4 attempts to break forward. Xavi and Messi stand over the ball 30 yards out. What can they do from here?
That's a nice touch. Messi picks the ball up 40 yards out, and receives a round of applause from the home fans before even doing anything. That's how you know you've made it.
Dani Alves clatters into Abbitati after powering through two Milan challenges, and the Milan keeper takes a hefty boot to the knee. Judging by the 70-yard ball he just hammered downfield, though, he should be ok to continue.
Yet more lovely build up from the Catalans. This particular move ends with Messi spinning onto Iniesta's ball 18 yards out. His side-footed effort does not have enough curl on it however, and Abbitai catches comfortably.
@dee_nic_ - Messi is running outa records to break! Go Barca go!
@tibrai - Milan always come clean in the second periods. Barca should be careful...
Isaac Cuenca is enjoying himself on the left hand side. He jinks past Abate with ease for the third time tonight, and Nesta does very well to deny Fabregas a clear shooting chance. The former Arsenal man is finding some very dangerous positions in the Milan box tonight.
Ibrahimovic forces a corner, which Milan want to take quickly. This works against them, however, as Puyol easily heads away and Barcelona pour forward. Inisesta, Xavi and Fabregas exchange passes before the latter is tripped by Ambrosini. Attacking free-kick here...
A sliding Carles Puyol is inches away from connecting with Xavi's deep free kick. The Barca defender was all on his own at the back post there. Where is this resolute Milan defence?
@i_samyak Camp Nou should be renamed as Hogwarts...game on!!
Milan just can't keep it. For every fleeting moment they have the ball, they are surrounded by Barca shirts and are pressured into a mistake. Nothing too unusual about that when you're playing Guardiola's side, though.
@simoneckstein Surely it's a long way back from here...
I should also point out that Antonini was booked in conceding that penalty. Milan may protest, but there was never anything to debate, it was a stone-waller. Not much sign of a Milan response yet.
@Jim_delves Barca do what they do best. Carve open defences.
Penalty Goal Messi
GOAAAALL BARCA! Record breaker. Inspiration. Messi never looked like missing, and rolls a left-footer into the bottom corner. 50 goals in the Champions League for the little man.
Yellow Card Luca Antonini
After all their hard work in the first leg, that was an absolute horror show from the Milan defence. First they fail to clear an attempted shot from Xavi, then Luca Antonini recklessly brings down Lionel Messi from behind. Messi to take...
Abate needlessly gives the ball away, and Barca have possession again. It may be a while before they surrender it again.
MISS! You have to say that was a sitter. Dani Alves pings a cross into Fabregas, who beautifully chests the ball off to Messi, barely five yards out. The angle is tight, but still, for the best player in the world, he should do better than drag his shot wide of the far post. Bit of a let off for Milan.
Like lightning. Lionel Messi picks the ball up and just charges at the Milan defence. He breezes past Nesta and fires in a shot from the edge of the box. Straight at Abbitati, but the warning sides are loud and clear for Allegri's side.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is making a long awaited comeback to Camp Nou tonight. His first contribution is a bustling run into the box, but the home crowd is soon cheering as Gerard Pique gets in a storming tackle. Ibra will have felt that.
Milan pack three defenders around them, but still Iniesta and Messi are able to work an opening. The Spaniard's final shot, however, is scuffed and won't trouble Abbiati in the Milan goal.
As you might expect, there's a great deal of Barcelona possession so far. But Milan win the first free-kick of the game as Dani Alves brings down Clarence Seedorf on the halfway line.
Barcelona get us underway. The ball is officially rolling. Don't go anywhere...
Barcelona are in their traditional blue and red – Milan in their changed white strip. Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers has his whistle to his lips. Here we go…
The teams are filing out into a packed stadium. Camp Nou is absolutely rocking, as you might expect. I’ve weighed up all the permutations tonight, and I just can’t call it. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy. Keep your feelings coming over to @woodstome.
A quick word on Lionel Messi. I had to have one. If he scores tonight, the 24 year-old will break the record for the most goals scored in a single Champions League season. It would also mark his 50th goal in the competition, moving him joint third in the all-time scoring charts. There will soon be no more records for the Argentine to break.
We shouldn’t forget that this is also a massive match for the home side. Barcelona look like surrendering their league crown to Real Madrid this season, and only through winning this competition will they underline their status as the world’s greatest team. It’s been three years the Blaugrana last experienced defeat at home in the Champions League (against the mighty Rubin Kazan), and only twice since then have they failed to win the game. One of those rare incidents, however, came earlier this season against Milan…
Anyone looking for a Milan omen? How about this: the Rossoneri have never lost a Champions League knockout tie after drawing 0-0 at home in the first leg. In Massimo Ambrosini, they also have a player who remembers winning on this ground; the midfielder was a key part of the side that came away with a 2-0 victory here in 2000, 12 years ago. The task is huge for Milan, but they will go into the game sure in the knowledge that an almighty upset is well within the realms of possibility.
The reason being, of course, that a score draw will be enough to take Milan through on the away goals rule. You already knew that.
History, as you might expect, does little to separate the sides. Looking at past meetings, the record stands at five wins versus four in Barcelona’s favour, with five matches ending in a draw. Milan have not beaten Pep Guardiola’s side in their last six attempts, but then they don’t actually need to win tonight do they...
To claim the match was all-out attack versus all-out, defence, however, would be very unfair. Milan had several chances to go in to tonight’s game with a lead, and were in not for some profligate finishing, particularly from Robinho, they would be in front. Let’s also not forget the four goals that Milan have managed against Barcelona already during this season’s competition (a 2-2 draw and 3-2 defeat during the group stages). Massimiliano Allegri’s side know how to find a goal when they need one, and Barca will have to have more than one eye on their own net as they go in search of victory here.
The reverse fixture, held just six days ago at San Siro, was without doubt the best 0-0 draw I have seen all season. The pace, precision and variety of the Barca attacks played an obvious part, but the excitement was doubled by some absolutely magnificent Milan defending, complete with last ditch tackles that bought the crowd to its feet on more than one occasion. The combination of Nesta and Massimo Ambrosini, in particular, was unshakable in its determination not to concede. Having been used sparingly this season, the two Milan warhorses will be giving everything to repeat the feat tonight.
Milan, meanwhile, welcome Alexandre Pato back to the fold, but the Brazilian forward will have to make do with a place on the bench. Thiago Silva is not yet fit to return, meaning 36 year-old Alessandro Nesta continues at centre-back alongside Philippe Mexes. MILAN LINEUP: (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Mexes, Antonini; Seedorf, Ambrosini, Nocerino; Boateng; Ibrahimovic, Robinho. Bench: Amelia, Bonera, Yepes, Aquilani, Emanuelson, Pato, Lopez
Let’s bring you the teams straight away. The big news for Barcelona is that Xavi returns from injury, and slots straight back into the Catalans’ midfield. Also returning from injury is Cesc Fabregas, who starts in a forward three along with Isaac Cuenca and Lionel Messi. Whoever he is. BARCA LINEUP: (4-3-3): Valdes; Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Puyol; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Cuenca, Messi, Fabregas Bench: Pinto, Thiago, Keita, Adriano, Alexis, Pedro, Tello
I’m Tom Woods, and I’ll be absorbing every pass, flick shimmy and as it’s made here. So why not join me? Perhaps start by sending me your thoughts and predictions for the game, via @woodstome on Twitter.
Welcome to Goal.com, and to Camp Nou. I hardly feel I need to sell the game taking place tonight, but I will do anyway. It’s Barcelona versus Milan. Two of the oldest and most feared names in world football, with 11 European club titles between them. It’s the Champions League quarter finals. It’s 0-0 after the first leg, and everything to play for. Biggest game of the season so far? You’d better believe it.
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