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Messi scores as Barca advance to UCL quarter final

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Four-time Champions League winners
Barcelona and French champions Paris Saint
Germain suffered few problems in reaching the
quarterfinals of this season’s competition on
Wednesday.
Barcelona – who had come into their game on the back of some poor
league form – beat Manchester City, who had Pablo Zabaleta sent
off, 2-1 for a 4-1 aggregate victory.
While Barcelona’s win saw them join domestic rivals Atletico
Madrid in the last eight, City became the second English side in two
nights to bow out, Arsenal having exited on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring for Barca with his eighth Champions
League goal of the campaign before Vincent Kompany levelled just
before the final whistle.
But there was still time for Dani Alves to strike the winner as
Barcelona qualified for the quarterfinals for the seventh successive
season.
While victory will ease the pressure on Barcelona boss Gerardo
Martino, defeat for City will increase demands for manager Manuel
Pelligrini to deliver the Premier League title, as this latest setback
came four days after they were knocked out of the domestic FA Cup
by second tier Wigan.
Barcelona forward Cesc Fabregas said that while others might be
saying Barcelona were a shadow of previous sides, they were quite
happy with how things were going.
“Everything is good, it’s not that bad,” said the former Arsenal star.
“We’re in the final of the Cup against Real, we’re four points behind
in the league.
“To be the Barcelona of two, three, four years ago is very difficult
because they were probably the best team in the history of football.
“It’s very difficult to maintain this level but we don’t have to be the
best (ever), we just try to stay at the top of our game.”
For Kompany there was a serious sense of injustice especially
Zabaleta’s dismissal for a second bookable offence when he objected to
the referee failing to give a penalty.
“Going for the second time down to 10 men (Martin Demichelis was
sent off in the first leg) when it was a clear penalty, it’s not easy
conditions to come and play against such a good team.
“Over the course of the two games, whenever we were with 11
players there wasn’t much between the two teams.”
PSG, who Barcelona beat in last season’s quarterfinals, kept alive
their hopes of becoming only the second French side to win the trophy
– after Marseille in 1993 – with a 2-1 win over German outfit
Bayer Leverkusen for a 6-1 aggregate win.
Goals by Marquinhos and Ezequiel Lavezzi cancelled out Sidney
Sam’s sixth minute opener to give Laurent Blanc’s side their sixth
successive win in all competitions.
Blanc was not impressed by the overall performance but he said it
was mission achieved.
“PSG were clearly not brilliant tonight. I expected more, but the
essential is there, we are through,” said the former France national
coach.
Leverkusen – who came into the match on the back of a run of five
defeats and one draw – missed a penalty through captain Simon
Rolfes and, to round off a miserable experience, also ended the match
with just 10 men as Emre Can was sent off for s second bookable
offence.
Leverkusen’s Finnish coach Sami Hyypia, who also has had
questions raised about his future because of the recent loss of form,
tried to look at the positive side despite the overall score.
“I’m feeling a bit sorry for the team that we didn’t get anything from
the game,” said Hyypia.
“The starting point was difficult after losing 4-0 at home but we can
take a lot of confidence for the future.”
On Tuesday, holders Bayern Munich completed a 3-1 aggregate win
over Arsenal with a 1-1 draw at home while Atletico Madrid’s 4-1
success against visitors AC Milan ensured a 5-1 overall scoreline.

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