Barcelona Make Light Work of MilanApril 4, 2012
FC Barcelona reached the semi-finals of the Champions League after beating AC Milan 3-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night. Messi scored two penalties and Iniesta slotted home a third. Nocerino scored for AC Milan in the first half, making it 1-1 and briefly giving his team the lead in the tie. At any rate the home team created numerous opportunities and could easily have qualified by a greater margin.
Barcelona dominated both the share of chances and possession in the first half, finding space with relative ease despite the away side’s efforts to sit deep and compact. Milan tended to keep Robinho and Ibrahimovic forward for counter attacks, but for the most part the supply lines were cut off by Barça’s incessant pressing.
The home team started creating opportunities within just a few minutes of the kick-off. Cesc lofted a delicate chip behind the Milan defence for Messi, but Argentine got it wrong and scuffed his shot wide with just Abbiati to beat.
Soon after, Barcelona won a penalty. Messi, seized on an error by Milan high up the pitch. He got into the area but elected to square for Xavi rather than shoot. The ball found its way back to the feet of Messi, who was felled by Antonini as the defender tried to recover. Messi stepped up and tucked the penalty into the bottom left corner.
For the next 20 minutes Barcelona looked very comfortable – keeping the ball well and winning it back before Milan could build any attacks. But suddenly, against the run of play, Ibrahimovic received the ball deep in the Barcelona half and picked out Nocerino as the midfielder overlapped. Nocerino slid the ball beneath Valdes to make it 1-1 with Milan’s first shot on goal and give them the lead in the tie.
There was more urgency from the home team after conceding, and following a couple of shots from distance they earned another penalty. Xavi swung in a corner, but Nesta had a handful of Busquets’ shirt and brought the midfielder down. Messi took the penalty again and dispatched into the bottom right corner this time
Milan emerged with more attacking intent in the second half, but couldn’t achieve more than a couple of corners before Barcelona had exteneded their lead. A Messi shot was deflected into Iniesta’s path. Faced with only the ‘keeper to beat he curled the ball neatly inside the right post.
Milan fought to get a foothold in the match, sending a handful of dangerous long passes behind the Barcelona backline, but Valdés and his defence dealt with them comfortably enough. It was Barcelona who came closest to getting the next goal – Cesc lofted a pass forward to Messi, who chested it down and laid it off for Thiago to just miss the right hand post with a low shot. Later, only a desperate last-second lunge by Abbiati denied Messi a hat-trick after a mix-up in the Milan defence.
1-0 Messi (min 10)
1-1 Nocerino (min 32)
2-1 Messi (min 40)
3-1 Iniesta (min 53)