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Champions League: Bayern Munich and Barcelona Advance To Semi Finals
Two more goals from Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and a pair from Bayern Munich striker Ivica Olic, have sent the two powerhouse clubs back into the Champions League semi-finals. The Spanish giants are off to their fifth consecutive semi-final appearance, after eliminating AC Milan with a 3-1 win at Camp Nou.
Edmonton - April 4, 2012 - Two more goals from Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and a pair from Bayern Munich striker Ivica Olic, have sent the two powerhouse clubs back into the Champions League semi-finals. The Spanish giants are off to their fifth consecutive semi-final appearance, after eliminating AC Milan with a 3-1 win at Camp Nou. While in Germany, French side Marseille could do nothing to slow down a Bayern side that has now reached the final four for the second time in three years.
After holding Barcelona to a scoreless draw last week in Milan, the Italian giants were confident heading into the second leg that they could pull off the upset. Unfortunately for the Serie A leaders, the defending champions had other ideas. It would take Barcelona all of ten minutes to put the ball in the back of the net. AC Milan defender Luca Antonini brought down Messi in the penalty area with a careless tackle, that put the world's top footballer on the penalty spot. Milan keeper Christian Abbiati guessed right but a perfectly placed strike by the diminutive Argentine put the home side up 1-0.
To Milan's credit, the Italian's fought back and found the equalizer at the thirty-second minute courtesy of a wonderful ball from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, that midfielder Antonio Nocerino buried behind goalkeeper Víctor Valdés. The goal not only put AC Milan back on level terms but it gave them a leg up, with the all important away goal that escaped the Spanish side during last week's match in Italy.
Ten minutes later, the Catalans were back in front thanks to another strike off the foot of Messi from the penalty spot. After swarming the Italians in their end, Barcelona won a corner kick and on the ensuing spot kick, Milan legend Alessandro Nesta inexcusably pulled Sergio Busquets to the ground. Leaving the referee little choice but to award the Spanish side their second penalty kick of the half. Unlike the superstar's earlier attempt, Abbiati guessed the wrong way and Messi's strike easily rolled into the open side, putting the home side up once again. That gives the Barca striker fourteen goals in this year's Champions League, two more then Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez.
Andrés Iniesta put the final nail in Italian side's coffin, as the gifted midfielder put away a friendly bounce to put the Spaniards up 3-1. After Milan defender Philippe Mexes wonderfully blocked Messi's attempt at a hat-trick, the ball ricocheted directly to the hard charging Iniesta, who would make no mistake with his good fortunate.
Heading into the return match of the Marseille and Bayern Munich match-up, few gave the French side much of a chance after losing 2-0 at home in their opening leg. The German side wasted little time putting pressure on the visitors and were rewarded with the opening goal, thanks to a brilliant run from Frenchman Franck Ribéry. The talented midfielder made a wonderful run down the wing and sent a lovely low cross, that Olic deposited past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, just thirteen minutes in.
Bayern put this one to bed before the halftime break, as another brilliant run from a Munich midfielder, this time being David Alaba, led to another goal for Olic. Alaba made a wonderful run and just like Ribéry before him, sent a quality low cross that the Bayern striker tapped home for the brace. Thirty-seven minutes in, this one was done as Munich looks to be rounding into to form, at just the right time.
Day two will feature the return engagement in Madrid between APOEL and the heavily favoured Real Madrid squad. With La Liga's top team already holding a 3-0 lead in goal aggregate, this one is nothing more then a formality. While in England, Chelsea will be looking to eliminate Benfica and get back to the Champions League semi-finals, after defeating the Portuguese side 1-0 in last week's opening leg.
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