Barcelona saw off the challenge of Shakhtar Donetsk with a 1-0 win in this second leg sealing a 6-1 aggregate victory, and almost certainly a semi-final encounter with the great enemy, Real Madrid. Messi got the goal, a record breaking 48th of the season and put an end to the run of games without a win away from home in the Champions League knockout stages under Guardiola.
After the 5-1 victory in the first leg, Guardiola opted against resting key players, so all eyes were on Lionel Messi. La Pulga was tied with Ronaldo’s club record for goals in aseason (again) and a goal at the Donbass would set a new record.
The game started slowly, and Shakhtar looked up for the job in hand. Unfortunately, they couldn’t create anything clear-cut and Costa could only force a straight-forward save for Valdes after good play.
Jadson was the next to warm Valdes up for El Clasico with two shots, after pull backs, but the Spaniard had no problem making the saves. And unfortunately for Shakhtar, Barca decided to turn up for the remaining 20 minutes of the first half.
It all started with Messi – who else – and his stinging shot nearly caused Pyatov to fumble the ball. Then a typical Guardiola move, with the Ukrainian defense being worked from side to side before an overlap from Adriano was only stopped by a goal-line clearance.
Messi was next to test Pyatov, but his chip was plucked from the air by the 6’3” keeper. Sure, the Ukrainians were level now, but Messi was on a mission to change that.
43 minutes were on the clock, and Alves was cutting in from the right. He saw Messi making the dalyed run, and fed him the ball. Then the little genius improvised.he dragged the ball past one challenge, seemingly into another, but wait…this is Messi, and he could get another touch in, the killer shot, and the record fell, oh, and Barca were ahead.
It was his 48th of the season, and everyone thought Ronaldo’s record was unbreakable. But who could’ve predicted Lionel Messi?
First half over, 1-0 to Barca. The tie was undoubtedly over too.
Second half, and if anyone though the first half was like a training match, then they hadn’t seen nothing yet. Both teams tried to threaten, but to no avail really.
Messi turned on the magic on 58 minutes with an unbelievable run, before picking out Afellay, but his shot was parried by Pyatov.
Xavi was taken off on 65 minutes, for Pedro who looks back to somewhere near his best, and you could tell El Clasico is next for Barca. Pique was also given a brief rest, and his replacement, Gabriel Milito served up some comic relief, as a slip led to him planting his studs firmly in the groin of Eduardo. He may have broke his leg previously, but I can only imagine that ranked up there on the pain scale!
There was still time for Messi to try an audacious chip, but Pyatov stood tall, and the impending scramble that ensued from his poor throw out nearly saw Pedro add a second.
With Real Madrid waiting on Saturday, the game was a great warm-up, of just the right intensity, and given his form, my choice for Man of the Match, Lionel Messi, could get his 50th goal at the Bernabeu.
Bring on El Clasico(s) and Visca El Barca!