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Pedro hails Messi impact

Pedro Rodriguez says Lionel Messi is to thank for guiding Barcelona into the Champions League semi-finals.

Messi, in doubt due to a minor hamstring problem, sat on the bench for over an hour, and in his absence Barca struggled, falling behind to a Javier Pastore strike five minutes into the second half at Camp Nou.

But the Argentine left his fingerprints all over the game shortly after his 62nd-minute introduction, as his driving run opened up the defence, eventually allowing Pedro to rifle home the equaliser and send Barca through on away goals.

And despite scoring the all-important goal, Pedro was quick to lead the acclaim for Messi, telling reporters: “Messi is a very important player and he put in a great effort (after coming on).He was the catalyst, we changed after he came on and we have to thank him for that.

“PSG are great rivals and perhaps it took us a while to get into our rhythm at the start. We’re very happy. I think having managed to get the (all-important) equaliser in the end we deserved to go through.”

David Villa also heaped praise on Messi’s game-changing display, saying: “Leo is the best player in the world, his sole presence changes a game. I congratulate him for the commitment he showed with the club and with us.”

Villa, who supplied the assist for Pedro’s goal, went on to share his thoughts on his team’s experience in the game.

“We struggled a lot, PSG’s counter-attacks were dangerous and lethal, they were in our side of the field a lot but despite that, I think we did well,” he said.

“We knew about their weapons, with a lot of good counter-attacking players, but we still conceded many balls and crosses, which doesn’t happen to us often on other days.

“I’m very happy after suffering a lot, it’s a good way to win. We’re very happy to be in the semi-finals and now we will wait for the draw. The semi-finals will be complicated no matter the opponent.”

Barca could face Real Madrid in a repeat of the 2010/11 semi-finals, with Jose Mourinho’s men also in Friday’s draw after dispatching Galatasaray in the last eight.

Thu 11 April, 2013
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