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Barca into Champions League last four

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By David Redshaw

Wednesday 04 April 2012

Barcelona reached the Champions League semi-finals with a comprehensive 3-1 success over Milan in their second-leg quarter-final clash at the Camp Nou.

Two first-half penalties from Lionel Messi and an Andrés Iniesta strike after the interval made it five seasons in a row that Barca have reached the last four of the competition, although they were given a scare when midfielder Antonio Nocerino equalised on 32 minutes.

Messi opened the scoring with just 10 minutes on the clock after being brought down by Luca Antonini, but Antonio Nocerino levelled just after the half hour mark when he was set up by former Barca player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However, Messi restored the Catalans' lead four minutes before the break, with Alessandro Nesta penalised for holding Sergio Busquets inside the area and the Argentine stepping up to tuck home the resultant penalty.

After the break Iniesta made it three for Pep Guardiola’s men after a Messi effort had rebounded to him, directing the ball into the corner of the net to virtually settle the tie. With the visibly tiring Italians offering no or little attacking threat, Barca saw the game out comfortably to set up a semi-final clash with the winners of Chelsea and Benfica.

Iniesta said afterwards that things were going well for the reigning European champions and that he was happy to have reached the last four of the competition.

“When you face Milan it is never easy and we had to work hard for the win,” said the World Cup winner. “We knew a score draw would suit them and we had to take advantage of the chances that came our way.

“Things are going well and I’m glad to have reached the semis, although we’ll find out tomorrow who we play. I’m just happy to be there,” he added.

Milan striker Ibrahimovic claimed he had sympathy for Real Madrid boss José Mourinho when he visited the Camp Nou and insisted Barcelona’s second goal came from a penalty that should never have been awarded.

“We had made it 1-1 and then the referee signalled a penalty against us,” said the Swede. “I don’t understand it. The ball wasn’t in play yet he gave it. It was odd, strange, and it ruined the game. I still don’t understand why he gave it. There could have been a push but the ball was not in play, so you can’t give it.

“Barca don’t need these things,” he continued. “We are talking about the best team in the world. I’m beginning to understand what Mourinho says when he comes here to play them. Now I’ve seen it first hand I understand it more and more.”

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