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Football
Barca and Bayern march on
Lionel Messi scores twice from the penalty spot as holders Barca join Bayern in the Champions League semi-finals.
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2012 21:46
Milan knew a score draw would be enough to take them through and stunned Camp Nou when they equalised in the 32 minute, but a brilliant Messi performance outclassed the Rossoneri in the end [EPA]

Lionel Messi scored two first-half penalties to lead Barcelona to a 3-1 victory over AC Milan and a place in the European Champions League semi-finals for the fifth straight season on Tuesday.

Messi opened the scoring in the 11th minute at the Camp Nou before Antonio Nocerino countered with a 32nd-minute strike that gave the Italian champions a valuable away goal after the first leg had ended scoreless.

Barcelona's attack did not relent and the defending champions were awarded a second penalty when Alessandro Nesta needlessly yanked Sergio Busquets down inside the area during a corner, and Messi calmly scored his record 14th goal of the competition this season.

Goalkeeper Christian Abbiati kept Milan in reach but could not stop Andres Iniesta from completing the victory from close range in the 53rd.

In the night’s other game Ivica Olic scored twice to send Bayern Munich comfortably through to the semi-finals for the second time in three years with a 2-0 win over Marseille.

Bayern had a 2-0 lead from the first leg and Olic all but secured the German side's progression when he struck in the 13th minute, after former Marseille player Franck Ribery set the Croatian up for an easy tap in. Olic then put the result beyond doubt in the 37th by making it 4-0 on aggregate.

Record-breaker

Messi's two goals took his season tally to 58 and set a record for goals in a Champions League campaign with 14.

Barcelona also became the first club in the modern-day edition of the European Cup to reach five straight semi-finals. Only Real Madrid had accomplished the feat en route to winning five straight trophies between 1956-60.

Milan, meanwhile, have not reached the last four since winning their last title in 2007 and their players quickly surrounded Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers to protest after the final whistle.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic set up the equaliser and had a penalty appeal turned down in the second half, but was mostly muted by defender Gerard Pique in his first return to the Camp Nou since leaving Barcelona in 2010.

The match began with an electrifying pace as Barcelona pushed forward from the start and managed 12 first-half shots, with Iniesta failing to finish off a nice combination with Messi, who himself shot straight at Abbiati following an upfield charge after five minutes.

Messi uncharacteristically shot wide across the face of goal after displaying great control with just Abbiati to beat, but scored his opener moments later. Luca Antonini slid into Messi from behind during a scramble in the area, and the 24-year-old Argentina forward became the youngest player to reach 50 goals in the competition when he slotted his spot kick just out of reach of a diving Abbiati.

Bayern looked comfortable at the Allianz Arena and look set to face Real Madrid in the semis [EPA]

While Barcelona maintained control with their usual passing game, the Rossoneri defence held firm to avoid further goals before Robinho's individual effort created the equaliser.

The Brazil striker drew a number of players before spotting Ibrahimovic, who put Nocerino through on goal to slot a shot past Victor Valdes from the right side of the area.

Relentless

Knowing a scoring draw would put Milan through, Barcelona kept pressing for another goal and Abbiati had to stretch to push away a shot from Xavi Hernandez, a surprise starter despite a calf injury.

Instead it was Milan's disciplined defence - which held Barcelona scoreless in a Champions League game for the first time in more than two years in the first leg - that finally cracked as Nesta gave away a cheap penalty when he tussled with Busquets during a corner.

Messi sent Abbiati the wrong way from the spot to match Mazzola Altafini's 49-year mark of 14 goals in a European Cup campaign. Ruud van Nistelrooy scored 13 in 2002-03, a mark that Messi matched last year.

Milan clung on after the restart but were unlucky when Messi's effort was deflected into the path of Iniesta, who picked his spot inside the far corner to put the quarterfinal out of reach.

Xavi's replacement Thiago Alcantara had Barcelona's best chance after that as he shot wide across the face of goal, while Daniel Alves cleared away Milan's most dangerous chance to get back into the game moments before in the 67th.

Source:
AP
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