FC Barcelona lead AC Milan 2-1 on the night and on aggregate at halftime, but they haven't scored once from open play. Referee Bjorn Kuipers has given them two penalty kicks, both of them converted by Lionel Messi. He has 14 Champions League goals this year -- tied for the best tally in one Champions League competition -- but No. 14 was a controversial one.
The first goal of the game and first Barcelona penalty kick was an obvious one, with the referee having no choice but to point to the spot. In the 11th minute an odd scramble ensued that featured Xavi looking very confused and unsure of what to do with the ball in the box. He eventually passed to Messi, who was hauled down by Luca Antonini.
Messi stepped up to convert the penalty for his 13th goal of the competition and the 50th Champions League goal of his career. At that point, Barcelona slowed the game down and looked more interested in keeping the ball than creating chances. They were still able to create a couple of chances over the next 20 minutes, but it wasn't their chief concern.
Incredibly, they failed in this endeavor. Thanks to some sloppy defending by Javier Mascherano, who had an absolute nightmare of a first half, AC Milan were able to equalize. In the 32nd minute, Ibrahimovic beat Mascherano easily, then played a pass towards Antonio Nocerino. Mascherano made his second error in five seconds, stepping back just before Ibrahimovic played the pass while his teammates were stepping up, keeping Nocerino easily onside. He finished into the far corner, and at that point, Milan were going through on away goals.
Nine minutes later, controversy struck. Barcelona were granted another penalty in the 41st minute when Alessandro Nesta grabbed the jersey of Sergio Busquets and pulled him down before a free kick.
This is, without question, a foul on Nesta. The problem here is exactly why he resorted to grabbing Nesta's shirt. There is a very clear push by Carles Puyol on Nesta before the foul by Nesta on Busquets. If the referee is going to make the unconventional decision to call fouls for contact in the box before a free kick, he probably should have called the foul that came before the foul that led to the penalty. Messi stepped up and scored again, restoring Barcelona's lead.
There's still plenty of good news for Milan. Even though they're down, Barcelona's defense (and Mascherano in particular) looks poor. There could easily be another goal in this game for them. Additionally, any draw sees them through to the next round and Barcelona hasn't scored yet from open play. They're underdogs right now, but this isn't over.