Xavi sends Barca through
Xavi Hernandez's goal in the opening exchanges eased 2006 winners Barcelona into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over Celtic on Tuesday.
After the Spanish giants' 3-2 win in the first leg in Glasgow a fortnight ago Xavi ended Celtic's dreams of an upset after just three minutes to leave Barcelona 4-2 winners on aggregate.
Barcelona's opener came as a result of a stunning combination which showed off their players' mutual understanding at its best. Ronaldinho, standing on the edge of the area, flicked across a pass to his left while looking in the other direction and his compatriot Sylvinho picked up the ball and headed down the flank before crossing to Xavi.
The Spanish international then volleyed the ball over the head of Celtic's Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc to take the midfielder's tally to a remarkable five goals in his last seven matches.
Xavi's strike seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Scottish side, perhaps conscious of the fact that getting three goals without reply in the Nou Camp was an almost unobtainable target. Barca could have added to their tally in the following minutes when Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o both went close and the hosts then succeeded in controlling the midfield for the rest of the first half.
Celtic were unable to launch an attack of any real significance before the break but, with nothing to lose, they pressed forward in a slightly more committed fashion at the start of the second half. Second half substitute Georgios Samaras, who came on after 55 minutes for a clearly not fully fit Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, presented the first moment of danger moments after he arrived when he got behind his marker Lilian Thuram.
However, Barcelona captain Carles Puyol was on hand to thwart the Greek and partially make up for his errors in Saturday's 4-2 loss at Atletico Madrid, their first defeat of the year.
At the other end, Barcelona continued to keep Boruc and the Celtic defenders occupied without ever needing to get out of second gear. On the hour, Deco unleashed a rasping volley from 20 metres out that required an outstanding diving save from Boruc to avoid the Portuguese player scoring.
Eto'o missed a sitter after 72 minutes before both sides effectively decided to call it a night 15 minutes before the end and dawdled their way towards the whistle.
Messi injured again
One negative note on the night for Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was another injury to his often-inspirational Argentine winger Lionel Messi. The midfielder, who has been suffering from various aches and strains in recent weeks, pulled up with a left thigh problem while going for the ball and limped off in tears after 34 minutes. He was replaced by Thierry Henry.
The initial diagnosis given by the Barcelona doctors was of a torn muscle which could keep Messi, the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year runner-up, out of action for a month, which would mean he could miss at least the first leg of Barcelona's quarter-final encounter.