Messi inspires Barca win
Stunning Altintop goal helps Galatasaray through
Barcelona pulled off a remarkable Champions League comeback when Lionel Messi scored twice in a thrilling 4-0 home win over Milan last night that sent the Spaniards through to the last eight 4-2 on aggregate.
Trailing from last month’s last 16, first leg at the San Siro, Barca were ahead in the fifth minute at a raucous Nou Camp thanks to Messi’s brilliant curling effort and the World Player of the Year levelled the tie on aggregate five minutes before half-time with a powerful low drive.
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.
“We started really fired up, as you have seen. The early goal helped us a lot, but it was something we looked for from the first minute,” Villa said.
“We are delighted for the fans. We always believed we could do it. For them, and with them, we have done it.”
Roared on by close to 90,000 supporters inside their giant arena, fired-up Barca harried and hassled Milan from the start.
The early goal they desperately needed arrived when Messi curled a brilliant shot into the top corner that left goalkeeper Christian Abbiati rooted to the spot.
Barca’s intensity dipped as the half wore on and Milan came within a whisker of snatching an equaliser. 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 continued to dominate and Villa justified his inclusion in the starting line-up when Xavi sent him clear on the right and he struck a perfect left-foot shot high into the corner.
The Spain forward made way for Alexis Sanchez 15 minutes from time and it was the Chilean who set up Alba to fire home Barca’s fourth which killed off Milan’s hopes.
In Germany, Hamit Altintop scored a stunning 30-metre goal to set Galatasaray on the way to a 3-2 win at Schalke which sent them into the quarter-finals.
The Turkish side went through 4-3 on aggregate after handing Schalke their first defeat of the competition.
Roman Neustaedter gave Schalke an early lead but Altintop pulled the Turkish side level in the 37th minute when he collected a free-kick and scored with a shot which swerved away from Timo Hildebrand and went in off the foot of the post.
Burak Yilmaz stunned the hosts by putting Galatasaray ahead with a breakaway goal five minutes later, his eighth of the competition.
Michel Bastos levelled for Schalke just after the hour but the Germans could not find the winner despite dominating the closing stages, with Umut Bulut snatching a win for Galatasaray in injury time.
Last 16 – second legs
Schalke 04 vs Galatasaray - 2-3 (Galatasaray win 4-3 on aggregate)
Barcelona vs Milan - 4-0 (Barcelona win 4-2 on aggregate)
Playing today – 20.45
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