Barca march into semis
Barcelona march towards another Champions League crown
Last Updated: April 12, 2011 10:36pm
Messi: Argentina ace was on target to secure semi-final spot
Lionel Messi's strike gave Barcelona a 6-1 aggregate win over Shakhtar Donetsk as they progressed to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
Barca only needed the one goal to secure their passage to the final after thumping the Ukrainians 5-1 at Camp Nou.
Shakhtar made a blistering start to the game at the Donbass Arena with Victor Valdes having to pull off several excellent saves throughout the game to keep them at bay.
But Messi sealed the result two minutes before the interval as he collected a pass from Dani Alves and fired a low shot home.
The win means Barcelona now face a potential clash with arch rivals Real Madrid in the last four if they see off Tottenham in their game.
Shakhtar had history against them with only three clubs ever having previously managed to overturn a four-goal first-leg deficit in UEFA competition, while on Saturday the Ukrainian champions suffered their first home defeat since October 2008 after going down 1-0 to 10-man Obolon Kyiv.
Despite that loss though, Shakhtar still boasted a hugely impressive record at the Donbass Arena, where they had won 32 of 35 matches since moving there in September 2009, and Mircea Lucescu's side were determined not to give Barca an easy ride.
Knowing how critical an early goal could be, Shakhtar started in determined fashion and they created a great opening in the eighth minute when Jadson's clever pass put Douglas in, but he could not beat Valdes, who did superbly to block at his near post.
The home side continued to push and Jadson had two efforts which, fortunately for Barca, were straight at Valdes.
Barca stayed calm though, and soon enough they were causing problems for the Shakhtar defence.
Messi and Ibrahim Afellay both saw well-struck efforts saved by Andrei Pyatov, while Adriano had a shot cleared off the line by Yaroslav Rakitskiy.
Messi then spurned a magnificent chance in the 31st minute when faced with just Pyatov to beat.
However, although the Shakhtar goalkeeper came out on top on that occasion, he was left grasping at thin air 12 minutes later when Messi put Barca ahead with his ninth goal in this season's Champions League.
The Argentina international received a return pass from Dani Alves on the edge of the Shakhtar area before making his way into the box and, after riding a challenge, fired a low shot inside Pyatov's near post.
That goal wiped out Shakhtar's away strike from the first leg and all but ended any slim hopes they had of creating a huge upset.
However, the home side refused to give up and they almost drew level on the stroke of half-time with a Jadson free-kick that Valdes did well to tip over.
Shakhtar kept up their hunt for an equaliser after the break, but they also left themselves at risk of being hit on the counter-attack and Barca nearly doubled their lead in the 58th minute through Afellay.
A fine run from Messi ripped open the Shakhtar defence and, after he had laid the ball off to Afellay, it needed a fine diving save from Pyatov to deny the Dutchman.
Valdes produced an even better stop in the 73rd minute to keep out Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who had spun well on the edge of the box but saw his rasping drive brilliantly parried over one-handed by the Barca number one.Shakhtar's final chance to salvage a draw fell to substitute Marcelo Moreno, but he volleyed wide from six yards out after flinging himself at Vyacheslav Shevchuk's superb right-wing cross and Barca were able to celebrate the victory.
|Shakhtar Donetsk||Team Statistics||Barcelona|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|5||Shots on Target||7|
|4||Shots off Target||8|
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UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||5||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|4||FC Viktoria Plzen||5||0|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||5||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||5||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H