Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lionel Messi puts Barca one foot in Wembley

Lionel Messi scored twice late on as Barcelona took a giant step towards Champions League final with a 2-0 first leg semi-final win over 10-man Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Messi, taking his tally to 52 in all competitions this season, scored on 76 and 87th minutes - the second solo effort brilliant general - to resolve a conflict in a bad mood Madrid defender Pepe was sent off in the 61 minutes .

This incident also saw Madrid coach Jose Mourinho - who on Tuesday had sparked a war of words with his opposite number Pep Guardiola - sent in the stands, while Barca goalkeeper Jose Pinto has also shown a red card after an incident in halftime.

However, the end result means the club, European champions in 2006 and 2009, are firm favorites to advance to the final at Wembley next month.

Barca captain Carles Puyol was - who missed five of his team defeats this season - but the visitors still had a number of absences with Andres Iniesta, Eric Abidal and Adriano among the missing.

Madrid, who last week ended his three-year wait for a trophy after beating Barcelona to win the Copa del Rey final, they were unable to appeal the suspension to Ricardo Carvalho and injured Sami Khedira.

The first half was a matter of careful about the content of Madrid to leave the club has in its possession on the edge of danger and visitors will not want to commit too many men forward.

This led to Cristiano Ronaldo showing his frustration at one point and the fans, and it means scoring chances at both ends are rare.

Iker Casillas, Xavi tested a volley well beaten from the start, while intriguing Barça had the best chance of the opening period on 24 minutes after clinging to pass from Lionel Messi.

However, again denied by fellow Casillas Spain, which blocked his low shot.

David Villa also has seen a bit of effort does not go far wider than the club looking for a precious away goal.

At the other extreme, supporters of Real Madrid had to wait until just before the break to see his side Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes to give something to think about.

Ronaldo tried his luck from 25 yards and the ball rebounded from Waldo chest. Mesut Özil seemed destined for the network while still, but Valdes saved his effort and an offside flag had been ruled out any objective anyway.

As the players left the field after half more niggly first, there was a melee between the parties, as it entered the tunnel leading to Pinto received a red card.

Mourinho has decided to move things to pause, take off and sent on Emmanuel Adebayor, Mesut Özil, who scored twice here in the first leg 4-0 in the first quarter-final victory at Tottenham.

Both teams had half chances early in the second half, with Messi and Ronaldo and the efforts blocked, before the Real defender Sergio Ramos has had a yellow card that rules the second stage.

Much worse was to come to Madrid, but as they were reduced to 10 men when Peter saw the red card after one of Dani Alves, who left Brazil writhing in pain.

It was the fourth time in four games with Barcelona this season that Madrid had a player sent off, and the wrath of Mourinho on the bench resulted in what was sent to the stands.

Barca felt a great opportunity to take control of the tie and almost went ahead on 68 minutes when Villa was a shot saved by Casillas and Pedro led to the recovery inches wide.

And his next start saw the lead when substitute Ibrahim Afellay did well to create space to the right and his low cross was presented by Messi running at the near post before.

Messi was not over and struck a brilliant second with three minutes remaining to leave the club with one foot in the final.

As Argentina dribbled past several defenders of Madrid just a step before sliding right-footed shot past Casillas.

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