Barcelona vs. AC Milan, 2013 UEFA Champions League: Final score 4-0, Blaugrana progress to quarterfinals

David Ramos

Unlike the first leg of this tie at San Siro, AC Milan's midfield was not organized and looked like they had no clue how to play against Barcelona. With less opposition in front of them, the Blaugrana scored four times to advance in the UEFA Champions League.

Barcelona have advanced to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League, pulling out a difficult comeback. They went down two goals to AC Milan in the first leg at the San Siro, but recovered brilliantly to win 4-0 at the Camp Nou, progressing with a 4-2 aggregate victory.

Milan's shaky defending from the opening whistle was a bad sign of things to come for the rossoneri. It took a mere five minutes for Barcelona to take advantage, with Lionel Messi scoring an absolute stunner to get his side right back in the tie. The Milan defense couldn't close him down quickly enough as he collected the ball on the edge of the area, and he powered a spectacular 20-yard strike into the top corner.

Things deteriorated for the Milan defense shortly after that, though they were lucky enough to avoid getting scored on for most of the half. The Blaugrana should have had a penalty in the 10th minute, when Ignazio Abate pushed Pedro Rodriguez in the back, but the referee didn't spot the infraction. Three minutes after that, Christian Abbiati made a brilliant save on a stinging shot by Andres Iniesta, and Messi failed to put his follow-up attempt on target.

Stephan El Shaarawy got on the end of Milan's first real counter in the 30th minute, a worrying sign for the visitors. They looked dangerous very frequently in the first leg of this tie, but took a half-hour to do anything of note at the Camp Nou. Milan would create one more counter before Barcelona scored again, and their failure to capitalize was probably the tie's main turning point.

In the 38th minute, Javier Mascherano completely failed on an attempted headed clearance, putting the ball into a perfect spot for M'Baye Niang to run onto. The young striker surged past the Barcelona defense, playing himself one-on-one with Victor Valdes, but hit the post when he looked sure to score.

Just one minute later, Barcelona scored their second goal of the night and their equalizer in the tie. A bad giveaway in the center of midfield caught the Milan midfield out of position and allowed Iniesta to find Messi on the edge of the box, in a similar position from which he scored his first goal. Instead of going to the far post, like he did on his first goal, he placed a perfect shot to the near post that Abbiati never appeared to have a chance to stop, locking up the tie at 2-2 on aggregate heading into halftime.

While Milan looked more lively and their defense looked more composed to start the second half, it took just 10 minutes for the midfield in front of them to make an error that led to a goal. An attempted clearance through the center only got as far as Javier Mascherano, who stepped up from his central defense position to restart the attack. Xavi collected the ball and played a brilliant pass to David Villa, which Kevin Constant attempted -- and failed -- to cut out. Villa applied a composed finish to put his team up 3-0 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate.

Facing a must-score situation, Massimiliano Allegri made aggressive substitutions, introducing box-to-box midfielder Sulley Muntari for experienced holding midfielder Massimo Ambrosini, as well as forwards Bojan Krkic and Robinho. In the 82nd minute, Bojan nearly found Robinho with a low cross into the box, but Barcelona were able to clear before Robinho could get onto the end of it.

Unconventionally, Barcelona started to occasionally drop off of their opponents in the 85th minute while still looking to counter and hit with a knockout blow, which they managed to get. Messi did brilliantly to win the ball back in midfield, then find Alexis with a through ball. The Chilean switched for Jordi Alba, who made a brilliant run to get into position and finish off the move to seal his side's victory.

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