There were no surprises on Wednesday evening as Barcelona and Bordeaux made sure of their places in the last eight of the UEFA Champions League. The architects of their respective wins over Stuttgart and Olympiacos were Lionel Messi and Yoann Gourcuff, both of whom were in sublime form.
The reigning continental champions spared Spanish blushes by surging to a 4-0 win over the Germans, who had no answer to their hosts’ scintillating football. The Frenchmen were made to work a good deal harder by their Greek guests before eventually eking out a 2-1 victory, their seventh straight win in the competition.
The quarter-final line up is now complete, with tonight’s victors joining the English duo of Manchester United and Arsenal in the hat along with Lyon of France, Germany’s Bayern Munich, Inter Milan of Italy and Russian representatives CSKA Moscow.
Barcelona 4-0 Stuttgart (Barcelona win 5-1 on aggregate)
Goals: Lionel Messi 13, 60, Pedro 22, Bojan Krkic 90
Bordeaux 2-1 Olympiacos (Bordeaux win 3-1 on aggregate)
Goals: Yoann Gourcuff 5, Marouane Chamakh 88 (Bordeaux); Konstantinos Mitroglou 65 (Olympiacos)
Goal of the night
Barcelona 2-0 Stuttgart (Pedro 22)
Popping up in an unaccustomed position just outside the penalty area, Lionel Messi clipped a sublime pass to the unmarked Yaya Toure on the left. Taking the ball in his stride, the Ivorian midfielder played a first-time pass across the six-yard box and into the path of the onrushing Pedro, who outpaced his marker to roll the ball home and complete a textbook goal.
The key moments
Gourcuff repeats the trick: After teeing up Michael Ciani for the only goal of the first leg with a free-kick from the left, Yoann Gourcuff served up more dead-ball trickery from out wide to tighten Bordeaux’s grip on their tie with Olympiacos. This time, however, Gourcuff needed no assistance, sending in a wickedly dipping shot that deceived goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis as it flew into the top corner of the net.
Bordeaux’s set-piece skills have been a feature of their campaign. The French champions have now scored nine times from free-kicks in this season’s competition, with Gourcuff almost making it ten on the stroke of half-time with another dipping effort. Fortunately for Nikopolidis, the woodwork came to his rescue.
The Flea has a feast: There is not much the opposition can do when Lionel Messi is in the mood to create mischief. Three days after compiling a quite superb hat-trick against Valencia, the little Argentinian was at it again, scoring twice and helping lay on another. Messi wasted little time in putting Barcelona in control against their German opponents. With 13 minutes gone, he cut in from the right flank in trademark style, zipping past two defenders before curling an unstoppable shot round Jens Lehmann and into top corner.
Not content with that, he had a big hand in his side’s second of the night and continued to cause mayhem in the visiting defence, which was powerless to break Barcelona’s spell. There was no respite after the restart, as Pedro’s scampering run and Dani Alves’s classy backheel created the space for Messi to turn on the edge of the box and fire home his second of the evening. Substitutes Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bojan Krkic rounded off the show in the final minute, with the young Spaniard turning in the Swede’s fine through-ball.
Quite a finale: Two-nil up on aggregate and a man to the good following Matt Derbyshire’s dismissal, Bordeaux suffered a nasty surprise when Konstantinos Mitroglou rifled home from 18 yards to level the score on the night. And when Alou Diarra received his marching orders moments later, it seemed the tide was turning in the Greek side’s favour. Laurent Blanc’s men recovered their poise, however, creating several chances before the soaring Marouane Chamakh headed home Benoit Tremoulinas’s cross at the far post to kill the tie off.
FIFA World Cup™ contenders
Should Lionel Messi manage to replicate his current club form for Argentina this summer, there is little question he will be the star of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
With so little to do in defence, Brazilian defender Dani Alves took the opportunity to showcase his attacking attributes, setting up Messi for his second goal of the evening.
And French hearts will have been warmed by the performance of silky playmaker Yoann Gourcuff, whose touch and vision gave Bordeaux the edge against Olympiacos.
The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals takes place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon (Switzerland) this Friday. There are no seeded teams in what will be an open draw, and clubs from the same national association can be drawn against each other.
The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played on Tuesday 30 and Wednesday 31 March and the return legs a week later on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 April. The first legs of the semi-final ties are scheduled for Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 April, with the second legs to be played on Tuesday 27 April and Wednesday 28 April.
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