Barca edge it, Bayern keep flying

Barcelona fightback against PSG to make Champions League semi-finals and it is plain sailing for Bayern Munich.

    Barca edge it, Bayern keep flying
    Barca's Pedro Rodriguez runs to celebrate with teammates after scoring crucial goal against PSG [AP]

    Barcelona went through to the Champions League semi-finals on away goals as Pedro’s second-half equaliser clinched victory for the Catalan side on Wednesday.

    A less than fit Lionel Messi inspired his team to victory in the last 30 minutes, playing a role in his side’s goal and ensuring Barca reached their sixth successive Champions League semi.

    "He made a great effort. He is very important for the team and this week he has worked his upmost to get here," said goalscorer Pedro.

    "We need to thank him for his involvement. The team turned around completely with his introduction."

    But it was the visitors who took the lead at the Camp Nou five minutes after the break. Javier Pastore finishing from close range after being released by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the left channel.

    "We need to thank him for his involvement. The team turned around completely with his introduction"

    Barcelona scorer Pedro on Messi

    It took 21 minutes for the home side to respond as winger Pedro slotted a composed close range finish past Paris Saint-Germain keeper Salvatore Sirigu.

    In a game that Barca entered without both Javier Mascherano and Carlos Puyol, the versatile Adriano stepped into centre-back alongside Gerard Pique.

    Tito Vilanova favoured the Brazilian over young centre-back Marc Bartra and Ivorian Alex Song.

    The decision looked costly as PSG’s offensive trio of Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura attacked rapidly on the break causing problems for the home side's back four.

    Moura was unlucky not to put Les Parisiens in the lead, when he produced a salmon-like leap to meet Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s inviting cross, forcing a great save from Victor Valdes.

    Much criticism was made of David Beckham’s inclusion leading up to the game, with Carlo Ancelotti defending the performance of his veteran midfielder in the previous leg.

    The Italian manager however opted for the presence of Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti as a midfield partnership, a decision that paid off as the pair performed well in the middle of the park.

    The visitors carried on from where they left off in the second half, Ibrahimovic putting Pastore through to score his third goal of this year’s European campaign on 50 minutes.

    Messi could only look on restlessly as his team look set to lose their first Champions League home tie for three years.

    His manager answered his prayers on an hour played when Messi came on for Cesc Fabregas.

    There were doubts whether the Argentinian would even make the squad, but his inclusion gave the home side the momentum they needed, as suddenly Barca played with a greater purpose and urgency.

    Sure enough less than ten minutes after coming on, Messi played a role in his team’s equaliser.

    His pass to David Villa allowed the forward to assist fellow Spaniard Pedro, who finished with a cool finish and secured his team’s place in the last four of the Champions League.

    2-0 home, 2-0 away

    In the other quarter-final, Bayern Munich continued their march toward a second consecutive Champions League final with a 2-0 win at Juventus, securing a 4-0 win on aggregate and a place in the semi-finals alongside Barca, Real Madrid and Dortmund. 

    Mario Mandzukic all but killed off the tie in the 64th minute, heading in a rebound to leave Juventus needing to score four goals in 26 minutes. 

    Claudio Pizarro added Bayern's second in stoppage time. Arjen Robben also hit the post for Bayern.

    The only sour note for the German side was a booking for Mandzukic after a clash with Giorgio Chiellini. The striker will miss Bayern's next match. 

    Bayern are bidding for a treble after winning the Bundesliga with a record six games to spare on Saturday. They have also reached the semi-finals of the German Cup.

    "There's definitely a lot of work to do, and a lot of time, to improve in Europe. But we knew that already," Juventus manager Antonio Conte said.

    "We did all we could."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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