Messi on the spot to send Milan out
Barcelona qualified for the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the fifth consecutive season as two Lionel Messi penalties and a second-half strike from Andres Iniesta inspired them to a 3-1 win over AC Milan.
The Argentinian ace opened the scoring on ten minutes after he had been brought down by Luca Antonini, but Antonio Nocerino levelled just after the half-hour after he was set up by Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his return to the Camp Nou.
Messi restored the Catalans' lead five minutes before the break as Alessandro Nesta was penalised for holding Sergio Busquets and inevitably the FIFA Ballon d'Or winner was involved again for the third as his blocked effort rebounded for Iniesta to fire home.
Barcelona's all-time top-scorer now holds another prestigious record as he equalled former Milan striker Jose Altafini's record of 14 goals in one season of European football's top club competition. However, his side were made to suffer at times for their place in the last four by a Milan team that showed far more attacking intent than during their last visit in September.
"When you play against a team like Milan, you know the job is never done until you hear the final whistle," said Iniesta. "We had to work really hard against a great side and we are thrilled to be in the semi-finals. Let's see what happens in tomorrow's game and who we'll face in the next round."
The hosts started strongly and Messi could have given them an even earlier lead as he uncharacteristically wasted two good sights of goal within the first six minutes, firstly firing straight at Christian Abbiati and then side-footing wide after a wonderful pass from Cesc Fabregas.
The reigning champions were in front four minutes later though as Messi robbed the ball on the left and after his square ball to Xavi rebounded back into the Argentinian's path, he was brought down by a desperate challenge from Antonini. Messi stepped up to roll in his 57th goal of the season.
However, against the run of play, the Italians equalised on 32 minutes as Robinho and Ibrahimovic combined to play in Nocerino. He finished calmly to give Milan the advantage on away goals.
Xavi had a fierce effort beaten away by Abbiati minutes later as Barça responded immediately and they were handed the chance to retake the lead five minutes before the break as Busquets was hauled down by Nesta and referee Bjorn Kuipers pointed to the spot for the second time. Messi this time choose to go to Abbiati's left and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Milan had their own claim for a penalty two minutes into the second period as Ibrahimovic went down under pressure from Javier Mascherano, however, this time, Kuipers waved away the claims.
And five minutes later Barça had the two-goal cushion they craved as Messi's deflected effort found its way through to Iniesta, who showed great composure to stab the ball past Abbiati from a narrow angle.
Kevin-Prince Boateng should have reduced the arrears when he headed over when unmarked from Clarence Seedorf's corner, but at the other end substitute Thiago Alcantara wasted an even better opportunity as he pulled his effort wide after another fine pass from Messi.
Adriano should have sealed the tie, but skewed horribly wide when clean through with three minutes remaining - but Barça saw out the final stages to equal Real Madrid's record of five straight semi-finals from 1956-60.