Messi leads Barca to quarters; Bordeaux through
MADRID: Two-goal Lionel Messi turned in another sparkling display as defending champions Barcelona marched into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 4-0 victory over Stuttgart at Camp Nou while while Bordeaux squeezed through after a tense 2-1 victory over Olympiakos on Wednesday.
Messi, 22, followed up his hat-trick against Valencia on Sunday with a brace either side of the interval to make it eight goals in his last four games, and 29 in all competitons this season, as Barca cruised to a 5-1 aggregate victory.
As well as scoring twice, Messi was also the provider for Pedro’s goal before substitute Bojan Krkic scored in the final minute shortly after coming on. Barcelona are Spain’s only representatives in Europe’s flagship competition following the elimination of Sevilla and Real Madrid. They are also favourites to win the Champions League although no holder have ever managed to retain the trophy since its inception in 1993.
The additional incentive for Barca is that the Champions League final is played at the Santiago Bernabeu — the home of arch-rivals Real Madrid — and there would be nothing sweeter than lifting a fourth European Cup in the Spanish capital.
Spanish international midfielder Xavi Hernandez missed the game with a leg injury so Yaya Toure deputised in midfield with French forward Thierry Henry forcing record signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic onto the substitutes bench. Messi was the man Stuttgart knew they had to beware, but they could only watch in awe on 13 minutes as the Argentine dribbled inside and thumped a shot past Lehmann to put Barca 2-1 up in the tie.
Messi then produced a sublime pass to set up the second goal on 22 minutes finding Toure who squared the ball for Pedro to tap in his third Champions League goal of the campaign. After the break it was more of the same as Messi tormented the opposition, again setting up Toure for a great chance on 55 minutes only for the Ivory Coast midfielder to shoot wide. Messi showed his team-mate how to do it four minutes later turning smartly before curling the ball into the bottom corner for his fifth goal in his last two matches and fourth in this season’s Champions League. The Germans were helpless, however, as Bojan scored a fourth in the final minute shortly after coming on as a substitute.
Bordeaux made ot through into quarter-finals after a tense 2-1 victory over Olympiakos that saw three men sent off. Laurent Blanc’s men were 2-0 up on aggregate and apparently cruising after Yoann Gourcuff’s sublime early free-kick and the second-half dismissal of Olympiakos striker Matt Derbyshire.
But substitute Konstantinos Mitroglou drew the visitors level with a fine opportunistic strike and Bordeaux then lost captain Alou Diarra after he received a second booking. It made for a jittery final 20 minutes at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, but Marouane Chamakh finally put the tie to bed with an emphatic headed finish in the 88th minute to seal a 3-1 aggregate win.
Victory extended Bordeaux’s winning run in the competition to seven matches and took the French champions into the last eight of Europe’s top club competition for the first time since 1988. The Greek side’s frustrations boiled over in the game’s aftermath, with centre-back Olof Mellberg sent off after the final whistle.