Thursday, April 28, 2011

Messi magic leads Barca over Real Madrid

Paul Kennedy of Soccer America reports on the Barcelona 2-0 victory over Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semifinal leg.

For the first 75 minutes, the Real Madrid-Barcelona UEFA Champions League game, the third of four Clasicos, was a mess. More time seemed to be spent arguing with German referee Wolfgang Stark than getting on with the game. But then Lionel Messi (with help from Dutch substitute Ibrahim Afellay) went to work. Two goals by the Argentine -- his 51st and 52nd of the season -- gave Barcelona a 2-0 win over Real Madrid at the Bernebau Stadium.

The game featured three ejections -- though only one was to a player on the field. Real Madrid's Pepe went off for a nasty challenge on fellow Brazilian Dani Alves in the second half and Coach Jose Mourinho was removed from the bench shortly thereafter.

Barcelona backup keeper Jose Pinto was sent off in a halftime altercation.

Afellay helped break the deadlock when he broke down the right wing and fed a delicate cross that the charging Messi tapped in for the first goal in the 76th minute.

The second goal in the 87th minute was all Messi. The Argentine took the ball 30 yards out, dribbled past three defenders and put the most delicate of touches on the ball to slide it past goalie Iker Casillas inside the far post.

Mourinho, who was banished for telling the fourth official what he thought of Stark's call, continued his rants about pro-Barca refereeing, saying Wednesday's outcome had made next week's second leg in Barcelona a mere formality.

“We’ll go there with pride, without Pepe, who did nothing, without [suspended Sergio Ramos], who did nothing and the coach who can’t be on the bench,” he said. “If we score a goal, they’ll kill us again. It’s a result that is impossible. Today showed we have no possibility. And my question is, why? I’ll live my whole life with this question but I hope one day to get the answer. Why in a game that was equal did [Stark] do what he did? But he won’t answer. He’ll go home because he doesn’t have to answer to anyone.”

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