April 3, 2012
Messi's brace sends Barca back to CL semis
By SPORTS NETWORK
BARCELONA - Lionel Messi converted two penalty kicks in the first half as Barcelona secured its fifth successive Champions League semifinals appearance with a 3-1 win over AC Milan on Tuesday.
Barcelona failed to score for the first time in 30 Champions League matches in Milan as the first leg ended 0-0, but Messi converted his first penalty in the 11th minute and scored from the spot again in the 41st at the Camp Nou.
Messi leads the Champions League with 14 goals and led Barca to the semifinals for the sixth time in the last seven events. Barca will face the winner of the Wednesday quarterfinal between Benfica and Chelsea in the semifinals.
Andres Iniesta also scored for Barcelona, which has won two of the last three and three of the last six Champions League titles. Milan last advanced to the semifinals in 2006-07, when it beat Liverpool in the final.
Messi wasted an early chance to put Barca in front after 7 minutes, but he was on target minutes later from the penalty spot after Milan's Luca Antonini gave away the first penalty off a poor challenge from behind on the Argentine.
Messi slotted to the bottom-left corner, just out of the reach of Milan goalie Christian Abbiati in the 11th, but Milan was level just after the half hour.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic set up the equalizer with a perfect pass into the area, and Antonio Nocerino made no mistake from the right side of the box with a finish to the bottom left past Barca goalie Victor Valdes in the 32nd.
Milan watched its lead - it was ahead on the series based on away goals - slip away when Alessandro Nesta held the jersey of Sergio Busquets in the area with 5 minutes left in the first half.
Messi converted his second penalty to the bottom right and Iniesta followed in the opening 10 minutes of the second half with the final goal. Iniesta settled a deflected Messi shot on the left side of the area, then sent the ball to the far post to beat Abbiati.
Milan failed to create many good opportunities over the remainder of the match as Barca sealed a return to the semifinals. Barca will visit either Benfica or Chelsea on April 17, and host the second leg on April 24.
Bayern Munich 2, Marseille 0
Munich, Germany - Ivica Olic scored a first-half brace as Bayern Munich sealed its place in the Champions League semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Marseille at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday. Bayern won the series on aggregate, 4-0.
Mario Gomez Arjen Robben scored in the first leg of the quarterfinal series in France as Bayern won 2-0, but both were left on the bench for the return match and Olic mirrored the form of Bayern's usual lone striker Gomez.
Gomez has 11 Champions League goals this season, second only to Barcelona star Lionel Messi, and Olic added his first two this season to run his career total in the event to 10 goals.
Olic deposited a Franck Ribery cross in the 13th minute, and then finished off a Ribery and David Alaba build up for his second goal in the 37th.
With the series under control, Bayern was content with the four-goal aggregate lead and played out the second half without much excitement.
Bayern will play the winner of Wednesday's quarterfinal between Real Madrid and APOEL in the semifinals later this month as it tries to complete its march to the final in Munich. Real won the first leg, 3-0, at APOEL.
The first leg of the semifinals will be in Munich on April 18, with the second leg in Spain or Cyprus on April 25.