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Millennium Post

Fantastic four!

Fantastic four!
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Lionel Messi produced an inspired performance as Barcelona progressed to the quarterfinals of the Champions League on Tuesday, beating AC Milan 4-0 to overturn a 2-0 first-leg defeat.

Messi’s form had been questioned by some after Barcelona were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Real Madrid and looked demoralised in going down to Milan at the San Siro, but the criticism seemed to spur him on as he tore the Italians apart from the start.

He scored at the beginning and end of the first half, while David Villa hit a special goal for himself 10 minutes in the second period after a long run of bad luck with injury and form.

That put the Catalans ahead in the tie for the first time, before Jordi Alba netted in injury-time to seal a 4-2 aggregate win and a place in Friday’s quarterfinal draw.

On a personal level, Messi’s brace saw him reach yet another landmark in an incredible career.

He now has 58 Champions League goals, two more than Ruud van Nistelrooy, and his target now is Raul’s all-time best of 71.

The home side surged forward from the start and Milan could do nothing when Messi exchanged passes with Xavi Hernandez before stroking a beautiful finish into the top corner from the edge of the area after six minutes.

Stephan El Shaarawy gave the hosts a warning with a scuffed shot in front of goal which was dealt with by goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Milan were not comfortable at the back and Christian Abbiati could only palm an Andres Iniesta shot onto the crossbar. Messi was quickest to the rebound but, from a tight angle, headed into the side netting.

Iniesta fed Messi, who fired in Barcelona’s second through the legs of Philippe Mexes from 20 yards.

But it was the turn of Villa, who had had a quiet night, to get the third as he controlled a Xavi pass and slotted home clinically. Alexis Sanchez played in the Jordi Alba, who kept his cool to knock the ball in.
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