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Barcelona 4 AC Milan 0: Match report – Lionel Messi strikes twice to send Catalan giants through

Barcelona 4 AC Milan 0 (4-2 on aggregate): Magical Messi makes mockery of Italian giants and Villa seals the deal

PUBLISHED:

21:34 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 12 March 2013

Lionel Messi put in another astonishing display to lead Barcelona to the quarter final 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.

Magical: Lionel Messi celebrates after vanquishing Milan's first leg advantage

Magical: Lionel Messi celebrates after vanquishing Milan's first leg advantage

Ecstasy: Gerard Pique roars with delight after Messi's second put the teams level on aggregate

Ecstasy: Gerard Pique roars with delight after Messi's second put the teams level on aggregate

Match facts

Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano (Puyol 77), Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro (Adriano 83), Messi, Villa (Sanchez 74).

Subs not used: Pinto, Fabregas, Song, Tello.

Goals: Messi 5, 40, Villa 55, Jordi Alba 90.

AC Milan: Abbiati, Abate, Mexes, Zapata, Constant, Montolivo, Ambrosini (Muntari 60), Flamini (Bojan 75), Niang (Robinho 60), Boateng, El Shaarawy.

Subs not used: Amelia, De Sciglio, Nocerino, Bonera.

Att: 96,000.

Ref: Viktor Kassai (Hungary).

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.

Poise: Messi bent the ball home from the edge of the box to get the scoring underway

Poise: Messi bent the ball home from the edge of the box to get the scoring underway

Great start: Before long Barcelona, thanks to Messi, had wiped out Milan's first leg advantage

Great start: Before long Barcelona, thanks to Messi, had wiped out Milan's first leg advantage

Quarter finalists

Barcelona
Borussia Dortmund
Galatasaray
Juventus
Paris St Germain
Real Madrid
Bayern Munich or Arsenal
Malaga or Porto

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.

Under siege: Abbiati pummels the ball away as Barcelona turned up the pressure

Under siege: Abbiati pummels the ball away as Barcelona turned up the pressure

Company: Messi is surrounded by Milan players but still manages to find a way to score

Company: Messi is surrounded by Milan players but still manages to find a way to score

At the double: Messi's second goal squeezes past Abbiati's outstretched left arm

At the double: Messi's second goal squeezes past Abbiati's outstretched left arm

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.

Pedro picked up a booking before the
end of the half for a foul on Ignazio Abate, meaning he would miss the
quarter-final first leg should they progress, while Mathieu Flamini was
also facing a suspension for a challenge on Pedro.

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.

Pulling the strings: Xavi (left) was at his influential best as Barcelona dominated possession

Pulling the strings: Xavi (left) was at his influential best as Barcelona dominated possession

Shackled... or not: Milan tried to keep Messi under wraps but failed miserably

Shackled… or not: Milan tried to keep Messi under wraps but failed miserably

Easy does it: Villa steers home the third with panache

Easy does it: Villa steers home the third with panache

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 Jordi Alba's intervention after 81 minutes to deny Robinho a simple chance from close range, before Adriano came on for Pedro.

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.

Watching on: Jordi Roura takes care of Barcelona in the absence of Tito Vilanova

Watching on: Jordi Roura takes care of Barcelona in the absence of Tito Vilanova

In tatters: Abbiati rages as Villa and Co celebrate their third goal of the night

In tatters: Abbiati rages as Villa and Co celebrate their third goal of the night

Perfect show: Villa celebrates in front of Barcelona's delighted fans after his superbly taken goal

Perfect show: Villa celebrates in front of Barcelona's delighted fans after his superbly taken goal

Spotted: Ronnie Wood (of Rolling Stones fame) was seen in the crowd with wife Sally

Spotted: Ronnie Wood (of Rolling Stones fame) was seen in the crowd with wife Sally

We're a team! Barcelona fans' message of unity for their players ahead of the clash

We're a team! Barcelona fans' message of unity for their players ahead of the clash

Lionel Messi signs new contract with Barcelona until 2018

Messi follows example of Xavi and Puyol by committing to Barcelona until 2018

PUBLISHED:

16:27 GMT, 7 February 2013

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UPDATED:

18:17 GMT, 7 February 2013

Lionel Messi has signed his two-year contract extension with Barcelona.

The Argentina superstar put pen to paper on his new deal at the Nou Camp this afternoon and is now tied to the Catalan giants until June 30, 2018.

Messi follows in the footsteps of fellow club stalwarts Xavi and Carles Puyol, both of whom signed their extensions last month.

Pen to paper: The four-time Ballon d'Or winner signed a new deal with Barcelona this afternoon

Pen to paper: The four-time Ballon d'Or winner signed a new deal with Barcelona this afternoon

Job done: Barcelona's president Sandro Rosell shakes hands with the Argentina international after he pledged his future to the Catalan club until 2018

Job done: Barcelona's president Sandro Rosell shakes hands with the Argentina international after he pledged his future to the Catalan club until 2018

Barca announced in December they had agreed new contracts with the trio.

It's
little wonder Barcelona are keen to tie down Messi's future for as long
as possible – the Argentina international has scored 45 goals in 34
appearances this season so far.

And that comes off the back of an incredible 91 goals during the 2012 calendar year.

Lionel Messi arrives at the Camp Nou Stadium to sign a new contract lasting until 2018

Lionel Messi arrives at the Camp Nou Stadium to sign a new contract with Barcelona

Sign on the dotted line: Messi arrives at the Camp Nou Stadium this afternoon to sign a new two-year contract extension with Barcelona, which will see him through until 2018. While Messi may again be surging ahead in the goalscoring charts, he is hardly inspiring many with his choice of jacket.

Lionel Messi arrives at the Camp Nou Stadium to sign his new two-year contract extension

Lionel Messi arrives at the Camp Nou Stadium to sign his new two-year contract extension

The news was welcomed by Messi's teammate Jordi Alba, who said: 'I can't imagine what Messi will be like in 2018, but it's great news for Barca fans that he's staying.

'He is the best player in the world and as long as nothing happens, he'll be the best ever. We'll try to make him feel as comfortable here as we can.'

Dotty: Messi wore an eye-catching tuxedo to pick up his latest Ballon D'Or award last month

Dotty: Messi wore an eye-catching tuxedo to pick up his latest Ballon D'Or award last month

Golden balls: Lionel Messi with his FIFA Ballon D'Or collection. He's won the accolade, for the best player in world football, for the last four years

Golden balls: Lionel Messi with his FIFA Ballon D'Or collection. He's won the accolade, for the best player in world football, for the last four years

The former Valencia player added: 'I was once unlucky enough to have to face him as an opponent, but now I'm here I'm delighted to have him as a teammate.

'I have never seen anybody capable of doing the things he can do.'

Messi, 25, came up through the youth ranks at Barca before making his competitive debut against Espanyol in 2004 at the age of 17.

Since then he has established himself as one of the best players in history, breaking numerous records in the process.

Delighted: Messi's teammate Jordi Alba (right) was pleased with news of the new contract

Delighted: Messi's teammate Jordi Alba (right) was pleased with news of the new contract

He won his fourth straight FIFA World Player of the Year award last month following a remarkable 2012 in which he scored 91 goals – smashing the world record of 85 in a calendar year set by Bayern Munich and West Germany striker Gerd Muller in 1972.

While setting that record, Messi became the first man to score five times in a Champions League game as Barca crushed Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 last March.

Three weeks after that he became Barca's all-time leading goalscorer after a brace against Granada moved him on to 233 official goals, one more than the previous record set by Cesar Rodriguez during the 1940s and 50s.

Familiar: The sight of Lionel Messi celebrating another goal for Barcelona has become a familiar one - he scored an all-time record 91 goals in the 2012 calendar year

Familiar: The sight of Lionel Messi celebrating another goal for Barcelona has become a familiar one – he scored an all-time record 91 goals in the 2012 calendar year

He has been in similarly stunning form in 2013 and his goal in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Valencia was a league-record 12th consecutive game in which he found the net.

During his time at the Nou Camp, Messi has also helped Barca win a host of silverware, including five Primera Division titles, three Champions Leagues, two Copa del Rey crowns and two FIFA Club World Cups.

Barcelona make sexy calendar for 2013

Barcelona are already the sexiest team to watch on the planet… and you should see their new calendar!

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UPDATED:

11:36 GMT, 27 November 2012

It's a widely held belief that Barcelona play the sexiest football around. So why not make a calendar to match

That must have been the thinking in the merchandise department of the Nou Camp at least.

My, how you've changed Lionel: These chicas seem to be the face of the Barcelona calendar rather than Messi or Xavi

My, how you've changed Lionel: These chicas seem to be the face of the Barcelona calendar rather than Messi or Xavi

Barca girls

Barca girls

Barcelona's 2013 calendar features two young ladies who seem to have left their replica shirts behind.

It is easy to imagine the teenagers of Catalonia (and maybe even Madrid for that matter) putting this on their lists for Santa.

Waking up with these two in your stocking would certainly be a Christmas to remember.

It takes a lot to move superstar Lionel Messi from centre-stage but this pair have just about succeeded.

Eye (not) on the ball: The calendar is sure to be a best seller with these two marketing it

Eye (not) on the ball: The calendar is sure to be a best seller with these two marketing it

Then again, there's no way of knowing what's inside the calender – this may all be sneaky marketing.

When the boys rub their hands in glee and rip open the packaging they may be disappointed to find inside the rugged faces of Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano.

Most football teams do put their star men on the pages of their calendars, but then Barca do claim they are 'mes que un club'.

Maybe they'll just have to take the risk and buy it.

Lionel Messi baby: Antonella Roccuzzo gives birth to boy named Thiago

Now he's the Daddy! Barca superstar's girlfriend gives birth to baby Thiago

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 2 November 2012

It seems strange to be talking about Lionel Messi's legacy as the Barcelona maestro is only 25, but on Friday his girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo gave birth to a boy whom they named Thiago.

When Messi hangs up his boots and defences finally get some respite from his wizardry, it might not be too long before another Messi is breathing down their necks.

Good week: Lionel Messi now has a golden boy to go with his golden boot

Good week: Lionel Messi now has a golden boy to go with his golden boot

The Argentina playmaker missed training to be with Antonella for the birth but Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova confirmed he was still in contention for selection for the match against Celta Vigo on Saturday.

'In principle he'll be available for the match,' explained Vilanova. 'It won't change anything that he hasn't trained for one day, it's not significant.'

On Saturday Messi scored his 300th career goal, which came as the second of his brace against Rayo Vallecano.

Meanwhile Gerard Pique is close to a return after missing over a month with a foot injury, though he will not make Saturday's clash.

Who knows Maybe Thiago will follow in his father's footsteps

Who knows Maybe Thiago will follow in his father's footsteps

'He has been training more intensely for some days now and it's a matter of a few days before he returns to work with us,' Vilanova said.

'It's important to get players back (from injury), above all in that position, where Carles Puyol is also missing.'

Rugged defender Puyol has been missing since dislocating his elbow in gruesome fashion during the Champions League win against Benfica on October 2.

Barcelona hit by Puyol blow as injured captain to miss Real Madrid clash

Barcelona hit by Puyol blow as injured captain to miss Real Madrid clash

PUBLISHED:

06:04 GMT, 3 October 2012

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UPDATED:

06:05 GMT, 3 October 2012

Barcelona centre back Carles Puyol
defender has been ruled out of Sunday's 'El Clasico' against Real
Madrid after dislocating his left elbow.

The 34-year-old captain required
hospital treatment after suffering the injury in Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Benfica in the Champions
League.

Agony: Carles Puyol after dislocating his elbow

Agony: Carles Puyol after dislocating his elbow

Puyoll, playing his first match since recovering from a knee problem, landed awkwardly after leaping for the ball at a corner in the 78th minute.

'We are waiting for more information but he will certainly miss the “Clasico”,' Barca coach Tito Vilanova said after the match.

The injury is a huge blow for Barcelona with Puyol's defensive partner Gerard Pique also sidelined.

Barcelona player Carles Puyol

Barcelona player Carles Puyol

Barca won in Lisbon, their second victory in two Group G games, thanks to goals from Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas.

'Now we have to forget about the Champions League and have a unique opportunity (on Sunday) to do things well at home,' said Barca fullback Dani Alves, who was visibly shaken by Puyol's injury. 'We know it is going to be a complicated match.'

The Catalans are eight points ahead of Real in La Liga after six matches.

Carles Puyol ruled out for six weeks with knee injury

Veteran Barcelona captain Puyol ruled out for six weeks with knee injury

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UPDATED:

12:22 GMT, 16 September 2012

Crocked: Puyol could be out for six weeks

Crocked: Puyol could be out for six weeks

Barcelona have been dealt a blow with the news that their captain Carles Puyol has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.

The veteran defender missed Spain's Euro 2012 triumph with a similar problem and he has been ruled out again after coming off injured in the 4-1 win over Getafe on Saturday.

Puyol, 34, has strained the posterior cruciate ligament in his left leg and will undergo further test in Sunday to determine the extent of the damage.

Barca boss Tito Vilanova said: 'It’s always a problem when you lose players like him. We know how important Puyol is to the team.

'He played well throughout the match, he brings a lot to the team. Hopefully we can get him back soon.'

Puyol is certain to miss Barca's Champions League opener against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday night, while he could also be ruled out of next month's league clash against rivals Real Madrid.

Barcelona 0 Manchester United 0 (2-0 on pens): Ashley Young misses penalty

Barcelona 0 Man United 0 (2-0 on pens): Spot of bother for Young after giants draw

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UPDATED:

20:13 GMT, 8 August 2012

Manchester United suffered penalty pain as they lost on spot kicks to Spanish giants Barcelona.

Ashely Young and Nani both missed their penalties as United lost 2-0 after the game ended goalless.

Wayne Rooney also missed a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

The United striker sent his spot kick, awarded on the stroke of half time after Nani was brought down after a lunge by Cristian Tello , low to Victor Valdes' right and the keeper was able to get down and make the save.

Valdes' opposite number David de Gea was called into action in the second half as he was forced to make two saves in quick succession.

But neither side could find the breakthrough and had to settle for the draw before penalties decided the tie.

More to follow…

Off target: Wayne Rooney had a penalty saved

Off target: Wayne Rooney had a penalty saved

We meet again: Nemanja Vidic vies with Lionel Messi

We meet again: Nemanja Vidic vies with Lionel Messi

Crowded out: Rooney, center, fights for the ball with Barcelona's Javier Mascherano, left, and Carles Puyol

Crowded out: Rooney, center, fights for the ball with Barcelona's Javier Mascherano, left, and Carles Puyol

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is Barcelona target

Arsenal face fight to keep Vermaelen as Barcelona target central defender

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UPDATED:

09:00 GMT, 4 July 2012

New Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova has given his backing to pursuing a move for Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen.

Pep Guardiola’s replacement wants
sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta to step up attempts to sign a
central defender after missing out on top target Thiago Silva, who has
signed a new deal at AC Milan.

Team talk: Thomas Vermaelen recently enjoyed a night out with Barcelona defender Carles Puyol in Ibiza

Team talk: Thomas Vermaelen recently enjoyed a night out with Barcelona defender Carles Puyol in Ibiza

Catalan newspaper Sport says Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martinez is the first alternative.

But, with both Manchester clubs and Arsenal also admiring the 23-year-old, his club are resisting offers below his 32million release clause.

The two alternatives are reported to be Arsenal’s versatile 26-year-old Vermaelen and Bayern Munich’s Holger Badstuber.

The club have also previously closely monitored Chelsea’s David Luiz.

Arsenal"s Thomas Vermaelen pictured with Barcelona"s Carles Puyol in Ibiza

Getting cosy with the Barca boys Arsenal ace Vermaelen pictured with Puyol in Ibiza

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UPDATED:

12:52 GMT, 20 June 2012

It's a picture Arsenal fans would rather not see: their inspirational centre-back Thomas Vermaelen enjoying a night out with Barcelona defender Carles Puyol at a restaurant in Ibiza.

The Catalan giants are considering a bid for Vermaelen after hitting a brick wall in attempts to sign Thiago Silva from AC Milan.

Nou Camp boss Tito Vilanova made Silva his top central defensive target but the Catalans set aside less than 30million for the deal – while sources in Italy claim Milan have already turned down a 32.5m bid from Paris Saint-Germain.

Fancy seeing you here! Vermaelen and Puyol pose for a snap in Ibiza

Fancy seeing you here! Vermaelen and Puyol pose for a snap in Ibiza

Belgium international Vermaelen, 26, fits the bill because of his ability to also play at left back and in midfield, but Arsenal are likely to resist any approach.

But Gunners fans will not be reassured to see Vermaelen and Puyol together with talismanic captain Robin van Persie's future still up in the air.

Arsenal remain determined to get their skipper to sign a three-year deal worth 130,000 a week with a 5m loyalty bonus.

Van Persie's representatives have held two rounds of talks with Arsenal, when the 28-year-old said he was not ready to sign new terms.

Who's next Captain Van Persie's future remains unclear

Who's next Captain Van Persie's future remains unclear

Asrenal"s Thomas Vermaelen pictured with Barcelona"s Carles Puyol in Ibiza

Getting cosy with the Barca boys, Thomas Vermaelen pictured with Puyol in Ibiza

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UPDATED:

09:50 GMT, 20 June 2012

It's a picture Arsenal fans would rather not see: their inspirational centre-back Thomas Vermaelen enjoying a night out with Barcelona defender Carles Puyol at a restaurant in Ibiza.

The Catalan giants are considering a bid for Vermaelen after hitting a brick wall in attempts to sign Thiago Silva from AC Milan.

Nou Camp boss Tito Vilanova made Silva his top central defensive target but the Catalans set aside less than 30million for the deal – while sources in Italy claim Milan have already turned down a 32.5m bid from Paris Saint-Germain.

Fancy seeing you here! Vermaelen and Puyol pose for a snap in Ibiza

Fancy seeing you here! Vermaelen and Puyol pose for a snap in Ibiza

Belgium international Vermaelen, 26, fits the bill because of his ability to also play at left back and in midfield, but Arsenal are likely to resist any approach.

But Gunners fans will not be reassured to see Vermaelen and Puyol together with talismanic captain Robin van Persie's future still up in the air.

Arsenal remain determined to get their skipper to sign a three-year deal worth 130,000 a week with a 5m loyalty bonus.

Van Persie's representatives have held two rounds of talks with Arsenal, when the 28-year-old said he was not ready to sign new terms.

Who's next Captain Van Persie's future remains unclear

Who's next Captain Van Persie's future remains unclear