Magic Messi helps Barca to stunning win
By Iain Rogers ,ReutersBARCELONA -- A fired-up Lionel Messi answered his critics by inspiring Barcelona to a sensational Champions League comeback against AC Milan on Tuesday with two goals in a 4-0 home win to help them reach the quarterfinals.
March 14, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
A rampant Barca, all-but written off after a surprise 2-0 reverse at Milan's San Siro stadium in last month's last 16, first leg, came storming back at the seven-times European Cup winners to progress 4-2 on aggregate after a memorable night.
They looked to Messi to spark a fightback and the four-times World Player of the Year did not disappoint with a scintillating display backed up by midfield trio Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets and fullbacks Jordi Alba and Daniel Alves.
Barca were ahead at the Nou Camp in the fifth minute through Messi's brilliant curling effort and the Argentina forward, who has suffered rare criticism in recent weeks, leveled the tie on aggregate five minutes before halftime with a low drive.
Barcelona ruthlessly dominated, with Milan struggling to get the ball out of their own half for long periods, and David Villa struck a third 10 minutes after the break before Jordi Alba netted a breakaway goal in the second minute of added time.
Before Alba's effort finally killed the tie, Milan had pressed forward looking for the goal that could have sent them through and there was a palpable release of tension in the giant arena when the Spain fullback's shot hit the back of the net before the celebrations began in earnest.
Barca's win makes them 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,” Villa told Spanish television.
“The early goal helped us a lot, but it was something we looked for from the first minute,” added the Spain forward, who has struggled for form since returning from a broken leg sustained at the end of 2011.
“We believed we could do it from the first minute, in fact from the final whistle of the last game,” he said.