"Good luck seeing a more dramatic match than this one," blurted ITV's beleaguered anchor Adrian Chiles. He had just witnessed Barcelona's 4-0 thumping of AC Milan in one of the Champions League's most one-sided knockout matches when a "more dramatic" game was taking place in Gelsenkirchen.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Lionel Messi inspired the Catalans' comeback when he scored a brilliant opener inside 10 minutes as Barça ominously roared back into the game. Their yard dog running to regain the ball returned as they pressed Milan fiercely, trusting Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano to mop up should the Rossoneri threaten to nab an away goal. Only they couldn't be.
For every Messi, there is an Alves
Mascherano, specifically, misjudged a header and M'Baye Niang was left one-on-one with Victor Valdés. A victim of Too Much Time, he hit the post and within a minute Messi had struck again to level the tie for a 2-0 lead at the interval.
David Villa hit the tie's winner when he with a luscious left-footer past Christian Abbiati and Jordi Alba made certain of the four-time European Cup winners' progress with a nifty dink in stoppage-time.
Three weeks ago, Barça could muster only one shot on target in Milan yet however tactically astute Milan were, the result masked just how mediocre a team they are. They lacked a talisman in the Camp Nou when yesteryear they had Van Basten or Gullit, Pirlo or Shevchenko, Kaká or Ibrahimović. That Massimiliano Allegri had to throw on the flat-track bully Robinho was an indication of the gulf between the sides.
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