Barcelona booked their spot in the last four of the Champions League with a 1-0 quarter-final second-leg win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
A goal from Argentine superstar Lionel Messi two minutes from half-time was enough to hand Barca a win at Donbass Arena on Tuesday, lifting them to a 6-1 aggregate triumph over the Ukrainian champions after their 5-1 destruction at the Nou Camp last Wednesday.
The hosts started brightly and dominated the opening quarter of an hour as Barcelona missed the influence of the suspended Andres Iniesta in the middle of the park.
Dominance of possession should have led to the opener for the Ukrainian outfit in the eighth minute when Brazilian attacker Douglas Costa was played in behind the defence forcing Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes to produce a superb save in the one-on-one.
Valdes was called upon again six minutes later when Costa’s countryman Jadson blasted a shot straight at the Spaniard, and the Brazilian had another fantastic chance in the 24th minute when a cross from Vasili Kobin came in from the right, but his shot was again straight at the goalkeeper
The visitors began to settle into the contest and Messi unleashed a fierce drive straight at Andriy Pyatov in the Shakhtar goal.
On the half-hour mark, Barcelona should have gone ahead with two glorious chances in as many minutes.
First, Adriano had his angled shot cleared off the line before Messi dribbled his way through the Shakhtar defence, striking a shot with the outside of his boot straight to Pyatov.
Iniesta’s replacement Ibrahim Afellay struck a venomous shot at the Ukrainian shot-stopper before Messi finally broke the deadlock a minute later.
Dani Alves strode forward in characteristic fashion down the right before cutting back for Messi, who took two neat touches and placed smartly into the bottom corner to make it 1-0 on the night after 43 minutes.
The home side kept pushing before the break and Jadson forced Valdes to tip his goal-bound free-kick over the bar.
In the second-half, a dazzling run from Messi almost set up another for Barcelona just before the hour mark.
The Argentine wizard drew a player before offloading a neat pass to Afellay on the left hand side of the box, but Pyatov palmed his well-placed shot away.
Valdes produced a superb reflex save after 73 minutes to deny Henrik Mkhitaryan after a flowing move from Shakhtar, and with five minutes to play Mkhitaryan picked out substitute Marcelo Moreno with a great cross, but the striker’s shot was just wide.
The win moves the 2009 European champions to the semi-final stage for the fourth successive season, where they will likely meet their fierce rivals Real Madrid, who lead Tottenham 4-0 heading into their second leg in London on Wednesday.
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