Barcelona progress to Champions League final at Real`s expense

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 09:02

Barcelona: Barcelona reached their second Champions League final in three years after a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the Nou Camp in their semi-final second leg clash here on Tuesday saw them progress 3-1 on aggregate.

Barcelona could now face Manchester United in a repeat of the 2009 final - which Barcelona won - as they hold a 2-0 lead over Schalke going into Wednesday`s second leg in Manchester.

Needing to overturn a 2-0 home defeat Real had to attack but they never managed a sustained threat on the Barca goal and fell behind to a Pedro strike in the 54th minute.

Marcelo replied 10 minutes later but it was only a consolation goal for Real.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola praised Real for a good performance but revelled in his side`s qualification.

"It is a total success," said Guardiola, who in his maiden season in 2008/09 delivered the treble including a Champions League success over Manchester United.

"I am very proud of my players. We won our first Champions League title in the old Wembley (in 1992) and we are going to try and win our fourth one there at the new one."

Guardiola admitted that the last few weeks which has seen Barca and Real play each other four times - Real taking the Kings Cup while they drew their league game and Barca won the first leg of this clash 2-0 - had been exhausting mentally and physically.

"These have been 20 very hard days, filled with tension. We have eliminated a superb team, a really great team."

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, who set up Pedro`s goal, was ecstatic.

"It is a unique feeling, to once again be in the final," said Iniesta, who missed the first leg through injury.

"Winning a confrontation like this one deserves to be feted."

Real found it hard to be gracious in defeat with assistant coach Aitor Karanka saying a disallowed goal early in the second-half by Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain supported coach Jose Mourinho`s controversial claims that Barcelona were favoured by referees.

"I think that after all that has been said this week, everyone saw what we had been going on about today (with regard to Higuain`s goal)," said Karanka, who stood in for Mourinho in the dugout as he was suspended after being sent from the bench last week.

"There is no need to say any more than that, millions of people saw it."

Mourinho chose to stay at the team hotel and watch the match on television.

Barcelona as expected started both Iniesta and Carles Puyol, who were passed fit with the latter filling in at left back for his 100th Champions League appearance for the club.

The Real players knew that they had to hassle Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta to prevent them finding their passing range but when they did get the ball to Lionel Messi and Pedro they had the pace and trickery to do damage.

Ricardo Carvalho who missed the first leg through suspension went in the book after 11 minutes for bringing down Messi as he tore through the Real half, while there were several other borderline yellow card challenges.

An unmarked Sergio Busquets headed straight at `keeper Iker Casillas from a corner but generally the game was simmering and it was Messi who threatened to bring it to the boil in the run up to half time.

The Real defenders were bunching up as they tried to halt his forays and he tested Casillas with a couple of shots from the edge of the area. The shot-stopper then made an excellent stop to deny a curling David Villa strike.

After the break Real attacked with renewed vigour and Barça were looking edgy. In a strange decision by the referee Higuain`s goal was ruled out for a foul by Ronaldo on Mascherano although he himself had been pushed by Gerard Pique.

The slippery conditions were also making it difficult for the Barca defence but the more Real attacked the greater chance they would be caught on the counter-attack and that is what happened.

Dani Alves ran down the wing and played the ball inside to Iniesta who found Pedro with a brilliant through ball and he finished calmly with just the keeper to beat.

The contest looked over but Real kept pushing and got their reward when Marcelo swept the ball home.

Di Maria nutmegged Mascherano and while he was unlucky to see his shot come back off the post, he kept his composure to set up Marcelo.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 09:02

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