Monday 24 April 2017

Messi adds finishing touch

Shakhtar Donetsk 0
Barcelona 1
(Barcelona win 6-1 on agg)

Lionel Messi scored Barcelona's only goal againt Shakhtar. Photo: Getty Images
Lionel Messi scored Barcelona's only goal againt Shakhtar. Photo: Getty Images

Barcelona set up a probable Champions League semi-final clash with Spanish rivals Real Madrid after Lionel Messi scored the only goal at Shakhtar Donetsk to complete a 6-1 aggregate success last night.

The World Player of the Year's 43rd-minute strike, his ninth Champions League goal of the campaign, put the 2009 winners through to the semi-finals for a fourth straight year.

Messi scored when full-back Daniel Alves picked him out in the penalty area and he held off three defenders before slotting low past Andriy Pyatov.

"We came here with a big advantage but it's a very difficult place to play. They are a very good opponent and they fought until the end," Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes said in an interview with Spanish TV.

"I think the team is playing much better than previous years and we just hope we can convert that into more titles."

The temperature was hovering just above freezing at Shakhtar's imposing Donbass Arena as the home side set about what was always likely to be an impossible mission against Pep Guardiola's slick side.

They enjoyed some decent early pressure and Valdes was forced into saves from Douglas Costa and Jadson before Barca began to get into their stride.

Messi had two decent chances before he broke the deadlock just before half-time.

Barca were always in control of the tie and Pyatov denied Ibrahim Afellay with a brilliant one-handed save in the 59th minute before Guardiola withdrew playmaker Xavi, centre back Gerard Pique and striker David Villa to give them a rest before Saturday's league game against Real.

The La Liga giants are set to meet four times in 18 days.

Irish Independent

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