A Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona became the first team in UEFA Champions League history to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit by defeating AC Milan 4-0 at the Nou Camp.
The La Liga side had a lot of work to do after a poor showing at the San Siro, but two first half stunners from Messi put the tie back in the balance.
David Villa put Barcelona in control with a sweet left-foot rocket before Jordi Alba finished the tie off with a break-away goal and sent Milan out of the competition.
The Catalans made a great start and grabbed the first goal of the night after just five minutes. Messi gave it to Xavi before receiving the ball back and curling brilliantly into the top corner. It was a stunning goal that gave Barcelona the confidence to overturn the aggregate scoreline.
Just seven minutes later, the home fans were furious after Pedro was denied a penalty. The Spain winger sprinted past Ignazio Abate before the Milan defender clumsily brought him down, but the referee shook his head and said play on when he should have been pointing to the spot.
Barcelona kept up their frenetic pace as Xavi was denied by a stunning save from Christian Abbiati while up the other end, Milan had two great chances to stamp their authority on the tie. First, Stephan El Shaarawy’s weak shot from a good position was easily saved by Victor Valdes before M’Baye Niang raced onto a loose clearance and should have scored. Unfortunately, his clever finish hit the post and Milan were soon to be punished.
Messi was given too much space once again and from 18 yards, he powered the ball into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 on the night and level on aggregate at 2-2. The goal came just six minutes before the half-time break and Milan looked down and out.
After half-time, Milan’s defensive troubles continued. Kevin Constant’s poor touch allowed Messi to race through but, with a hat-trick in his sights, the Argentine failed to connect with the ball correctly and his limp strike was easily kept out by Abbiati.
Just after, the moment that decided the game fell in Barcelona’s favour. Xavi played in Villa, who had failed to impress in the game so far but Spain’s top goalscorer expertly curled into the top corner with his left foot and the Nou Camp erupted.
The game was in Barcelona’s hands now, and Milan looked like a beaten side. They failed to get back into the game and it was easy for Barcelona to see out the game. The made it even better when they added a fourth goal of the night two minutes into injury time. Adriano led the counter-attack before sliding across to Alba and the left-back became the unlikely goalscorer with a calm finish that killed off the Italians.
Milan will be disappointed with a lacklustre performance but Barcelona look unstoppable as they head to the next round.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Kyle Dixon