Messi emerges to rescue Barcelona

Story highlights

  • Barcelona claims 1-1 draw against PSG to qualify for semifinals
  • Barca progresses on away goals after teams finish level at 3-3 on aggregate
  • Bayern Munich eased past Juventus 2-0 in Turin
  • Last year's runner-up Bayern won 4-0 on aggregate

Las Ramblas rumbled. The foundations of La Sagrada Familia began to shake. Camp Nou was silenced.

A shadow cast itself across the city as the sun dipped beneath the stands.

Amidst the rising tension a diminutive figure rose. He bent down, tied his laces and strode forward.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

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Those sat around the amphitheater rose in celebration, the enemy shrunk back into their skins, the victory was already assured.

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As Lionel Messi placed his feet onto the Camp Nou turf you could see a visible chill go down the spine of each and every Paris Saint-Germain player.

Leading 1-0 and with a place in the semifinals of the Champions League within touching distance, PSG looked set to produce one of the most remarkable results of the competition.

A 2-2 draw in last week's first leg appeared to have given Barcelona the edge in a tie which the Catalan club was expected to breeze through.

But when Javier Pastore shook the very foundations of one of Europe's greatest bastions, a cloud began to descend upon manager Tito Vilanova and his ailing players.

Barcelona might be 13 points clear at the top of La Liga, but this was not a performance which engendered confidence.

Suddenly there was doubt, anxiety, even fear. And then in a matter of minutes, everything had changed. Order had been restored.

Just nine minutes after Messi's introduction, Barcelona was level as the French resistance wilted under the wizardry of the game's most talented attacking force.

The four-time World Player of the Year has scored 57 times this season, but just his mere presence was enough to unnerve his opponents.

A 1-1 draw was enough to take Barcelona through on away goals after the two teams finished level at 3-3 on aggregate.

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But it could have been so different had the French side taken the chances afforded to them during a frantic opening 45 minutes.

Ezequiel Lavezzi wasted the most clear-cut opportunity, racing onto Zlatan Ibrahimovic's through ball only to fire straight at the onrushing Victor Valdes.

Lucas Moura forced Valdes into a sharp save when he headed Ibrahimovic's cross towards goal as the visiting side began to turn the screw.

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The French league leaders continued to look threatening and it came as no surprise when it finally grabbed the initiative five minutes after the break.

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Once again it was enigmatic Ibrahimovic who created the opportunity, threading the ball through to Pastore.

The Argentine playmaker took the ball in his stride before lashing home a left-footed effort which left Valdes with no chance.

But no sooner had the ball hit the net than a certain somebody was already preparing to make a grand entrance.

As Messi began to warm-up on the sideline, the crowd responded. Suddenly, the fear and anxiety which had gripped those adorned in the blue and red of Barcelona began to dissipate.

His entrance onto the pitch with 28 minutes remaining seemed to breathe new life into a Barcelona side which had failed to produce anything of note in front of goal.

But with Messi, albeit not a 100% Messi on the field, the home side began to tick and within nine minutes of his introduction it was level.

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Inevitably it was the Argentine who made the difference, jinking his way past two white shirts before rolling the ball in for David Villa, who laid it off for Pedro to rifle home.

That goal sealed Barcelona's place in the semifinals for the sixth consecutive year and defender Gerard Pique believes his side ran out worthy winners.

"I think Barca has shown a lot of quality in the six years and I think we deserve it again to be in the semifinals," Pique told Sky Sports.

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"Paris St-Germain is very strong with good quality but I think we deserved it.

"In the first leg we deserved a little more and tonight we're very happy to have qualified.

"It doesn't matter if he's a little bit injured he can change everything.

"We are very proud and lucky to have him in our side. He's our reference as a striker - he can score, he can pass he can do anything and everything."

PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti added: "I thought we played well. We caused Barca problems, but Messi is a fantastic player and can find a solution for his team even when not fully fit."

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In the night's other game, Bayern Munich produced a hugely impressive performance to book its place in the last four courtesy of a 2-0 win over Juventus.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Bayern eased past the Italian side thanks to goals from Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro.

Bayern, which lost in the final to Chelsea in Munich last year, joins Bundesliga rival Borussia Dortmund in the semifinals.

It is the first time two German clubs have made the last four of the competition in the same season.

And winger Arjen Robben, who was denied a goal of his own by the woodwork, is keen to avoid Jurgen Klopp's side in the next round.

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"If you win away 2-0 in Turin here I think that's an amazing result because they are unbeaten for I don't know how many games and they are so strong at the back," Robben told Sky Sports.

"Even more, if you dominate the game in the second half as we did, it is a great performance.

"We would like to be kept apart from Borussia Dortmund in the semifinals but we don't have a choice and it comes out how it comes.

"It going to be a big one and the semifinals have maybe the four best teams at the moment."

Bayern will now compete in their third semifinal in four years, but it must do without Mandzukic in the first leg with the Croatia star set to serve a one-game ban.

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon believes Bayern's extra experience was a key factor in the outcome of the tie.

He told Sky Sports: "The big difference between them and us is experience. I was even more impressed tonight than in Munich.

"In the first leg we did not give our all, but tonight we did and still there was nothing we could do. I think Bayern can win the Champions League."

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