Barca book Wembley berth
Real unable to produce miracle comeback at Camp Nou
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp. Last Updated: 03/05/11 11:24pm
Pedro wheels away after beating Iker Casillas to open the scoring
Barcelona booked their place in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley with a 3-1 aggregate success over bitter rivals Real Madrid.
Already leading 2-0 from the fractious first leg last week, Barca moved further ahead shortly after half-time when Pedro provided the finishing touch to Andres Iniesta's stunning pass after a sublime flowing move which started with goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
Real refused to lie down and immediately responded as some sloppy Barcelona play allowed Xabi Alonso to find Angel Di Maria who smashed a shot against the post before setting up Marcelo to slot home.
But the home side comfortably held out to secure their anticipated place at Wembley on 28th May, with a meeting against Manchester United widely expected with the Red Devils leading 2-0 following their away leg against Schalke.
The bitter animosity and gamesmanship which marred the first game was happily missing from the second leg, as was the presence of Real coach Jose Mourinho, who elected not to attend the match due to his touchline and dressing room ban.
Barca were the better side on the night and created a host of chances against Real, who were made to pay for their negativity at home, while there was a touching moment in the closing stages as Eric Abidal came on just weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a liver tumour.
Madrid, who were missing suspended pair Pepe and Sergio Ramos, named an attacking line-up, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain all in the side.
But after a solid start, which saw Ronaldo make some promising attacking runs, Barca began to dominate.
Ricardo Carvalho, who missed the first match through suspension, cut out a dangerous ball from Lionel Messi after 20 minutes and moments later, Iker Casillas saved comfortably from Sergio Busquets, who was allowed a free header by the Madrid defence.
Casillas then made a double save to deny Messi and must have been relieved when the Argentina forward fired wide just a minute later.
The Spain goalkeeper then did well to keep out Messi's low drive, but produced an even better save David Villa's curling effort, which was heading for the far corner.
Madrid were hardly getting a sniff and things could have been worse a minute before time, when Carvalho - already booked - hacked down Messi.
Referee Frank De Bleeckere, who had a good game, waved play on, much to the annoyance of the Camp Nou crowd, in what was the last real action of the first period.
Madrid improved after the break and were unlucky to see an effort from Higuain ruled out for Ronaldo's perceived foul on Mascherano, but Barca took the lead just as the visitors had looked to be making some headway.
The goal was fashioned by Iniesta, who played a fabulous defence-splitting ball through to Pedro for a clinical low finish from the Tenerife-born forward into Casillas' bottom right corner.
Mourinho's stand-in Aitor Karanka then sent on Emmanuel Adebayor and Mesut Ozil for Kaka and Higuain as Madrid sought a more direct approach as they chased three goals.
It looked an impossible task, but some hope was restored as Marcelo levelled the scores on the night, firing home from close range after Di Maria had hit the post and then squared the rebound for his better-positioned team-mate.
Adebayor threw his weight around up front after that and was arguably lucky to only pick up a late booking, but the Togo striker was left with an unenviable task as he fed off scraps against a Barca side happy to keep possession and run down the clock.
There was a huge cheer just before the end as Abidal came on to make his first appearance since returning from an operation to rumour a tumour from his liver in March.
But there was an even bigger roar a couple of minutes later as the referee blew the final whistle to confirm Barca as Champions League finalists for the third time in six years.The Catalans will now look for a repeat of their 1992 triumph and a fourth European Cup success in total as they return to Wembley on 28th May.
|Barcelona||Team Statistics||Real Madrid|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||1|
|5||Shots off Target||2|
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UEFA Champions League Group A
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UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
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|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
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|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H