Barcelona and Manchester United made sure there were no surprises on Wednesday evening by defeating Schalke 04 and Roma respectively for the second time in a week. Both two-time winners of the trophy, the duo now go head-to-head for the right to face the winners of the Liverpool-Chelsea clash.
The Blaugranas and Red Devils have met seven times in European club competitions and honours are even so far with two wins apiece and three draws, their last two meetings coming in the group phase of the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League, both of them pulsating 3-3 draws.
FC Barcelona 1-0 Schalke 04
Goal: Yaya Toure 43
Halil Altintop and Kevin Kuranyi gave the home defence plenty to think about in the opening 20 minutes. But poor finishing and some smart work by Victor Valdes prevented the Germans from converting their early supremacy into goals, and once Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez got to work, the Spaniards began to exert some pressure of their own on Manuel Neuer's goal.
Their enthusiasm dampened by Yaya Toure's opportunistic strike at the end of the first half, the Germans' attacking threat evaporated after the restart as the hosts closed the game out to saunter into the last four.
Yaya Toure was here, there and everywhere despite not being one hundred per cent fit. As well as patrolling his midfield beat, the Ivorian supported his forwards and even got his name on the scoresheet. Not bad for a holding midfielder. And just to round off his night, Toure received a well-deserved ovation when he was replaced in the second half.
Altintop tested Victor Valdes's reflexes as early as the seventh minute with a fierce drive. The Barça keeper was up to the task, however, fielding the Turk's powerful strike at the second attempt. Aware that an early Schalke goal would have changed the course of the tie, Valdes made sure his side maintained the momentum they had gained from the first leg.
Manchester United 1-0 Roma
Goal: Carlos Tevez 70
With no option but to go on the attack at Old Trafford, Roma were intent on trading blows with the hosts. All of which made for an entertaining encounter in which the English side always seemed to have the edge, despite Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo starting the game on the bench. Doni pulled off three smart first-half saves to keep the Italians in it, however, and the visitors should have taken the lead on the half-hour mark only for Daniele de Rossi to blaze over the bar from the penalty spot.
Luciano Spalletti's men became more deflated as the game wore on, and it came as no surprise when Carlos Tevez nodded in the only goal of the night. With the tie as good as over, Sir Alex Ferguson brought on Gary Neville for his first taste of competitive action in 13 months. It was the England international's 99th appearance in the competition.
Wednesday's win was United's 11th consecutive home triumph, beating Juventus' record of ten set a decade ago, and in reaching the semis for the fifth time the Scottish coach also equalled Carlo Ancelotti's tally.
Owen Hargreaves capped a magnificent performance by flighting a superb cross into the box for Tevez to glance home the winner. The mobile midfielder was United's driving force, stealing possession and covering for his team-mates in equal measure. With Hargreaves in such superlative form, Rooney and Ronaldo were barely missed.
When Wes Brown brought down Mancini inside the box after 30 minutes, Roma were entitled to start dreaming of an unlikely comeback. Daniele de Rossi soon brought his team-mates back down to earth, crashing the spot-kick over the bar and putting paid to his side's hopes in the process.