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zondag, april 08, 2012

Messi puts Barca in CL semis

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a penalty for Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a penalty for Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
  • Barcelona beat Milan 3-1 to secure a Champions League semifinal spot
  • Lionel Messi scores two penalties to set up a tie against Chelsea or Benfica
  • The spot kicks help Messi pass 50 goals in the top European competition
  • Bayern Munich also ease into the semis with a 2-0 victory over Marseille

(CNN) -- Barcelona booked a place in the European Champions League semifinals after convincingly beating AC Milan 3-1 on Tuesday, but the victory didn't come without its controversies.

Inevitably, it was Barcelona's Lionel Messi who was center stage, scoring two first-half penalties -- his 50th and 51st in the competition -- that set the Catalan club on their way following the 0-0 draw in Italy last week.

Milan, however, will bitterly contest both spot kicks.

The first saw Messi win, and then convert, a penalty in the 11th minute after Luca Antonini clipped the diminutive striker's heels.

Milan equalized through Antonio Nocerino, briefly putting the Italians through on away goals if the score stayed that way.

But a second penalty was awarded after veteran Italy international Alessandro Nesta was controversially adjudged to have tugged Sergio Busquets' shirt.

In the end Andrei Iniesta's second-half goal -- inevitably set up by Messi -- gave the home side a comfortable buffer and left Pep Guardiola's team on course to defend their title.

The coach said both spot kicks were warranted, and came after a first leg in which Braca were denied a penalty despite Alexis Sanchez being brought down.

"They were penalties. We didn't complain in the away leg and we won't complain now," Guardiola said. "Grabbing players in the area should be penalized and they are penalties. On television, it's a penalty."

The victory sets up a semifinal date with either Chelsea or Benfica, who play Wednesday, but all eyes will be on a possible "dream final" between Barcelon and Real Madrid in Munich on May 19.

Not everyone wants to see an all-Spanish final.

Bayern Munich ran out convincing 4-0 aggregate winners against French side Marseille after winning 2-0 on Tuesday at the Allianz Arena, where the final will take place. Two first-half goals from Ivica Olic put the tie beyond Marseille, giving the German side hope of enjoying home advantage next month.

The Croatian striker started the match as Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes could afford to rest top scorer Mario Gomez and Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who both scored last week.

Unless Cypriot underdogs APOEL Nicosia can overcome a three-goal deficit at Real Madrid on Wednesday, Bayern will likely face Jose Mourinho's side in the semifinals.

Source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_sport/~3/gAKCGQU_f1Q/index.html

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