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Brilliant Barcelona complete comeback for the ages

ESPN staff
March 12, 2013
Barcelona overturned a two-goal deficit to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League © Getty Images
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Barcelona and Lionel Messi added another remarkable performance to their scrapbook on Tuesday, as the Argentine scored twice to help the Spanish side come from two goals down to knock AC Milan out of the Champions League with a 4-0 home win.

In the night's other last-16 contest, Galatasaray reached the quarter-finals by the narrowest of margins - overcoming Schalke after an injury-time breakaway in a 3-2 away win in Germany.

Lionel Messi put in another astonishing display to lead Barcelona to the quarter-finals of the Champions League following a dominant display against AC Milan at the Nou Camp.

Two goals down from the first leg, Messi was on target after just five minutes and, although Christian Abbiati was at his best to repel the home side, he could do little to stop Messi doubling Barca's lead five minutes before the break.

David Villa - preferred by Jordi Roura to Cesc Fabregas - scored a vital third before Jordi Alba's injury time strike settled the tie.

Milan struggled to deal with the movement of an inspired Barcelona, while they failed to create enough chances with Victor Valdes rarely tested in the home goal.

It took just five minutes for Barcelona to reduce the deficit and take the lead on the night. Xavi's intricate pass found Messi whose unstoppable curling effort into the top corner gave Abbiati no chance.

It was Messi's 52nd goal of the season and he almost created one for Andres Iniesta moments later before Philippe Mexes intercepted. The home side were in full flow and after 13 minutes Abbiati was forced into making a fantastic save to tip Iniesta's effort on to the bar before Messi somehow shot wide following up.

The stopper had to be in top form four minutes later to acrobatically tip Xavi's stinging effort around the post.

Even at this early stage it was a case of when, not if, they were to draw level on aggregate and the home side thought they should have had a penalty when Massimo Ambrosini collided with Pedro inside the box.

However, the visitors survived and slowly began to deal with the attacking onslaught of the home side, whilst creating chances of their own. The best fell to lone striker M'Baye Niang who raced clear after breaking the Barca offside trap and although he beat Valdes, his effort hit the post and away from danger.

Milan were made to pay just seconds later and again it was Messi who was the scorer. Ambrosini lost out to Iniesta who fed Messi, who looked to be in an offside position when the ball was played. The flag stayed down and the Argentinian cut inside and fired past a helpless Abbiati with his lethal left foot.

Barca began the second period much like the first and after 55 minutes Xavi's pin-point pass eluded a sliding Cristian Zapata to find Villa, whose left-footed finish gave the Milan stopper no chance.

In a bid to increase their attacking options, Massimiliano Allegri brought on Robinho and Sulley Muntari for Niang and Ambrosini respectively.

With 15 minutes left goalscorer Villa was replaced by Alexis Sanchez, with Carlos Puyol coming on for Javier Mascherano shortly afterwards. The home side were thankful for Alba's intervention after 81 minutes to deny Robinho a simple chance from close range, before Adriano came on for Pedro.

Galatasaray ultimately edged a fraught tie © Getty Images
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The win was sealed late on when Alba somehow gathered the strength to burst down the left to fire past Abbiati in what was another memorable Barca performance at the Nou Camp.

In the night's other contest, Galatasaray reached the quarter-finals after edging out valiant Schalke at the Veltins-Arena.

Despite taking an early lead through Roman Neustadter, the German side were ultimately undone by strikes from Hamit Altintop and Burak Yilmaz just before the break.

Although Michel Bastos levelled just after the hour, Schalke still needed another as Gala had scored more away goals and their all-out attack left them vulnerable at the back, with the Turkish outfit making sure of their progress thanks to Umut Bulut's injury-time effort.

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