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Millennium Post

Finish on equal terms

Finish on equal terms
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Barcelona survived a huge scare from Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday to qualify for the Champions League semifinals for the sixth successive season on away goals after a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou.

The 2-2 draw between the pair in last week’s quarterfinal first leg had handed the advantage to the Catalans, but with star player Lionel Messi only starting the return as a substitute due to a hamstring injury, they seemed nervous throughout and PSG deservedly went in front just after half-time through Javier Pastore. However, with Messi summoned from the bench, Pedro fired home 19 minutes from time to send Barca into the last four.

Even without their talisman Barca came within inches of the perfect start when Cesc Fabregas was brought down 25 yards from goal a minute in and Xavi’s resultant free-kick scraped the post on its way past.

Thereafter though the first-period belonged to the visitors who capitalised on Barca’s uncharacteristic slackness in possession to take a stranglehold of the game. Ezequiel Lavezzi was first to test Victor Valdes in what was to be a busy 45 minutes for the Barca ‘keeper with a shot straight down his throat and Gerard Pique had to show good pace and strength to prevent Lavezzi a clear run on goal moments later.

However, as the half wore on PSG posed the greater threat with Lucas Moura’s pace in particular causing problems for a makeshift Barca defence.

The goal that PSG had been threatening all night finally arrived five minutes after the break as an excellent one-two between Pastore and Ibrahimovic sent the Argentine in behind the Barca defence and this time there was nothing Valdes could do to keep out his left-footed finish.

Messi’s arrival instantly forced Barca onto the front foot. Inevitably, Messi was involved as he jinked past defenders and rolled the ball into Villa who laid it back for Pedro to smash home.
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