FC Barcelona are almost certainly on their way to the UEFA Champions League knockout stage as a top seed after their 3-1 win over AC Milan. While Milan did catch Barcelona napping late at the end of the first half, they were poor and never came close to threatening to take a point. Barca weren't at their best, but had no problem controlling the match throughout.
From the beginning of the match, it was obvious that Barcelona would be able to set up shop in Milan's half and that the visitors wouldn't be able to do much except defend and look for chances to counter. Barca began to pick up the pace 20 minutes in and generated a great chance for Alexis Sanchez in the 21st minute, but he just barely missed out on reaching a ball that skipped across the face of goal.
In the 29th minute, Neymar drew a penalty for a foul by Ignazio Abate. The Milan right back had fouled Neymar a couple of times outside the box and, while Neymar went down easily, the referee wasn't willing to give Abate the benefit of the doubt when he reached out and pulled on Neymar's shoulder. Lionel Messi scored from the spot, ending a three-game scoreless streak.
Barcelona's second goal came in the 39th minute off a set piece, thanks to yet another foul drawn on Barcelona's left flank. Xavi delivered a free kick into the box for Sergio Busquets, who might have been a smidge offside, but was inexplicably unmarked when he headed past Christian Abbiati.
Milan pulled back a surprising goal in the 45th minute as Barcelona were coasting, waiting for the halftime whistle. Kaka created it with a brilliant run down the left to beat Dani Alves, but his cross should have been claimed easily by Victor Valdes. Instead, Girard Pique stuck out his leg in an attempt to block it and inadvertently redirected the ball into the back of the net.
Mario Balotelli came on as a substitute at halftime, but his presence did nothing to aid Milan's cause. Barca created numerous chances in a dominant second half, but their finishing was poor until the 83rd minute, when Messi sealed the win for Barcelona. Cesc Fabregas picked up the assist, playing a brilliant one-two exchange with Messi outside the box before the Argentinian surged into the penalty area and applied the finish.
Barcelona: Valdes, Adriano, Mascherano, Pique, Alves, Busquets, Xavi (Song 88'), Iniesta (Fabregas 78'), Neymar (Pedro 85'), Messi, Alexis
Goals: Messi (penalty 30', 83'), Busquets (39')
Milan: Abbiati, Emanuelson, Mexes, Zapata, Abate, Poli (Birsa 74'), Montolivo, De Jong, Muntari, Kaka (Matri 84'), Robinho (Balotelli 45')
Goals: Pique (og 45')