On-form Messi eases Barça through
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Barcelona secured their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League and a probable showdown with arch rivals Real Madrid after completing home and away quarter-final victories over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Leading 5-1 from last week's quarter-final first leg at the Nou Camp, Barça weathered an early storm at the Donbass Arena before scoring what would prove to be the only goal of the night through Lionel Messi just before half-time. That was the FIFA Ballon d'Or winner's 48th competitive goal of what has been an incredible season and ensured there would be no slip-up by Pep Guardiola's side.

"This fourth consecutive qualification for the semi-finals is a huge achievement," said Guardiola. "Barcelona have never done this before. This is a huge pleasure."

His Shakhtar Donetsk counterpart Mircea Lucescu complimented Barcelona on their win and said he hoped they would go on and win the trophy. "This was a spectacular match; in spite of the large number of players missing from our side, we had more chances than any team should normally have against Barcelona.

"This was a great opportunity to play against Barça, and this will be a useful experience for our young team for next season," Lucescu added.

Shakhtar had history against them coming into today's second leg with only three clubs ever having previously managed to overturn a four-goal first-leg deficit in UEFA competition, while on Saturday the Ukrainian champions suffered their first home loss since October 2008 after going down 1-0 to a ten-man Obolon Kyiv.

This fourth consecutive qualification for the semi-finals is a huge achievement.
Pep Guardiola, Barcelona coach

Despite that loss though, Shakhtar still boasted a hugely impressive record at the Donbass Arena, where they had won 32 of 35 matches since moving there in September 2009, and Mircea Lucescu's side were determined not to give Barça an easy ride.

Determined Shakhtar
Knowing how critical an early goal could be, Shakhtar started in determined fashion and they created a great opening in the eighth minute when Jadson's clever pass put Douglas in, but he could not beat Victor Valdes, who did superbly to block at his near post.

The home side continued to push and Jadsen had two efforts which, fortunately for Barcelona, were straight at Valdes. Barça stayed calm though, and soon enough they were causing problems for the Shakhtar defence.

Messi and Ibrahim Afellay both had well-struck efforts saved by Andrei Pyatov, while Adriano had a shot cleared off the line by Yaroslav Rakitskiy. Messi then spurned a magnificent chance in the 31st minute when faced with just Pyatov to beat.

Although the Shakhtar goalkeeper came out on top on that occasion, he was left grasping at thin air 12 minutes later when Messi put Barcelona ahead with his ninth goal in this season's Champions League. The Argentinian received a return pass from Dani Alves on the edge of the Shakhtar area before making his way into the box and, after riding a challenge, fired a low shot inside Pyatov's near post.

That goal wiped out Shakhtar's away strike from the first leg and all but ended any slim hopes they had of creating a huge upset. However, the home side refused to give up and they almost drew level on the stroke of half-time with a Jadsen free-kick that Valdes did well to tip over.

Shakhtar kept up their hunt for an equaliser after the break, but they also left themselves at risk of being hit on the counter-attack and Barça nearly doubled their lead in the 58th minute through Afellay. A fine run from Messi ripped open the Shakhtar defence and, after he had laid the ball off to Afellay, it needed a fine diving save from Pyatov to deny the Dutchman.

Valdes produced an even better stop in the 73rd minute to keep out Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who had spun well on the edge of the box, but saw his rasping drive brilliantly parried over one-handed by the Barça number one.

Shakhtar's final chance to salvage a draw fell to substitute Marcelo Moreno, but he volleyed wide from six yards out after flinging himself at Vyacheslav Shevchuk's superb right-wing cross and Barcelona were able to celebrate the victory.