FC Barcelona are going through to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages as a top seed, thanks to their 3-2 final score victory over AC Milan on Wednesday evening. Lionel Messi was the clear man of the match, scoring on a penalty and setting up the other two goals with a couple of spectacular assists.
The first goal came in the 13th minute, and is being credited as an own goal to Mark Van Bommel. After Thiago dribbled the ball out of the corner to start the move, Messi played a brilliant ball towards the back post, beating Christian Abbiati. Van Bommel and Xavi both made stabs at the ball, with Van Bommel apparently getting the last touch.
Milan found an equalizer quickly, thanks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and some poor defending. Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano found themselves completely beaten in the 20th minute, when Clarence Seedorf crossed to Ibrahimovic, who applied the finish.
Barcelona would win a penalty less than ten minutes later to re-take the lead, but the referee made two errors on the decision. The Blaugranas definitely deserved a spot kick, but the official incorrectly identified Alessandro Nesta as the man who brought down Xavi Hernandez in the box, when Alberto Aquilani was the man who committed the tackle. He then showed Nesta a yellow card, despite the fact that Aquilani clearly denied Xavi a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Messi stepped up to take the penalty and converted, but it was called back for an illegal take. While running up to the ball, Messi stopped completely and was shown a yellow card for doing so. He took the second try quickly and legally, scoring to put Barcelona up 2-1 and give them the lead going to halftime.
Max Allegri brought on Pato for Robinho at halftime, and that move paid off with a 54th minute assist. However, that's being a bit kind to Pato, as Kevin-Prince Boateng's goal was a magnificent individual effort and Pato hardly deserved to be credited with an assist. While running onto a Pato header, Boateng took a fantastic first touch before firing a brilliant half volley past Victor Valdes at the near post, bringing his team back into the game.
It was not to be, though, as Messi's brilliance would deny Milan points. In the 63rd minute, he played a jaw-dropping through ball through four defenders to Xavi, who finished the chance. The goal was an absolute back breaker for Milan, who seemed to lose their energy after it went in. Barcelona went on to coast to victory, clinching first place in Group H.
We'll have live coverage of every Champions League match in our UEFA Champions League Wednesday, Matchday 5 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, head over to SB Nation Soccer.