By JOHN BOSCHINI
A couple of penalties from Lionel Messi and a goal from Andres Iniesta saw Barcelona dispatch AC Milan 3-1 in Tuesday's second leg and on aggregate and move into the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League for the fifth year in a row.
Milan drew level at 1-1 on the half-hour mark when Antonio Nocerino capitalized on the visitor's first real attack, putting the Italian side in the driver's seat temporarily based on away goals. Milan will feel hard-done by the loss as Messi's second penalty, which gave Barcelona the lead, came after Alessandro Nesta was whistled for a shirt pull inside the penalty area.
Despite the controversial call, Barcelona dominated the game, controlling possession 62 percent of the time and registering 21 shots to AC Milan's three.
In the day's other match, it didn't take long for Bayern Munich to see off Marseille, as the German side punched their ticket into the semifinals with a 2-0 win on the night, resulting in a 4-0 win on aggregate. Striker Ivica Olic scored a double in the first half to extinguish any lingering hopes Marseille might have had. Marseille offered very little in terms of resistance, especially in the second half.
Here is a closer look at both quarterfinal results:
BARCELONA 3, AC MILAN 1 (Barcelona advances 3-1 on aggregate)
From the opening whistle, Barcelona's attack showed the poise, precision and fluidity that had eluded them in the first leg. Messi uncharacteristically fluffed a shot from six yards out but made up for it by firing home a penalty he drew himself two minutes later for his 50th career UCL goal. Luca Antonini performed a needless tackle to give away the spot kick. The lead was short-lived, however, as Milan equalized and took the advantage out of nowhere 20 minutes later.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's perfect through ball found its way to Nocerino and the midfielder slotted the ball past Victor Valdes. Nesta's shirt-pull on Sergio Busquets came just before halftime and Messi was again clinical in converting his spot kick. The game was put beyond doubt when a deflection on Messi's shot fell to Iniesta and allowed the Spaniard to convert from just outside the six-yard box.
Barcelona moves on to face the winner of the Chelsea-Benfica quarterfinal tie, which will be decided on Wednesday.
BAYERN MUNICH 2, MARSEILLE 0 (Bayern advances 4-0 on aggregate)
Bayern were off and running at home and were up after only 13 minutes when Olic struck from close range. Franck Ribery provided the assist on the goal. Olic doubled Bayern's advantage eight minutes before the break with another close-range effort. This time David Alaba played provider as Bayern struck on the counter attack.
Munich have now scored 20 goals in their past five games at home. They will play the winner of Real Madrid vs. APOEL in the semifinals, with a trip to the final at Bayern's Allianz Arena on the line.
What did you think of today's results? Impressed by Barcelona? Do you think AC Milan got a raw deal with the second penalty? Can Bayern half the Spanish party and win in the title in their home stadium?
Share your thoughts below.