Wednesday, 27. April 2011 - 22:44 Uhr
Barça gave a footballing lesson at the Bernabeu, climaxing in two Leo Messi goals -one of which will surely go down as a classic- that put them in the driving seat for a place in the Wembley final ahead of next week’s second leg at the Nou Camp.
A special occasion like tonight’s, demanded high levels of concentration and bravery and Barça proved to have enough of both. Going into the semi –final without Iniesta, Abidal, Adriano and Bojan, the team lined up with Puyol at left back and Keita playing just in front of him, and stayed true to their style of play, dominating possession, building from the back and showing complete control: this was Guardiola’s commitment and it worked.
74% of the possession and two second half goals from Leo Messi, meant Barça took a giant step towards making next month’s Wembley final. With both Pepe and Pinto seeing red and Ramos a yellow that will mean he misses the next game, the Nou Camp is set to be the scene for the deciding game next week.
From the start, this game looked like the first meeting between the two at the Bernabeu, rather than the Cup Final, with Barça composed and in charge - claiming an astonishing 82% of possession in the first quarter of an hour, whilst Madrid failed to get their pressing in midfield underway. Mourinho was clearly happy to give up the ball and hope to hit Barça on the counter.
Pinto red card
Most of the first half was a midfield tussle with only a piece of individual skill from Villa and two efforts from Messi and Xavi creating danger in Casillas’s area. Madrid were defending in numbers and only made hesitant attacks through a series of free kicks from the left, which failed to seriously trouble Valdés, who did however, make a great double stop from Ronaldo and Ozil, in a clear offside position, just before the break. It had been a niggly first half and after a scuffle broke out in the tunnel at half time, Pinto was shown a straight red.
Pepe gets his red
Mourinho fiddled with his tactics after the break, bringing on Adebayor for Ozil to try and hold the ball up in Barça’s half, but the visitors found ever more space in midfield and began to put together their typical passing game. Then on the hour mark, Pepe lunged into Alves and was shown a straight red, as was his manager, who complained in a typical fashion to the officials at his player’s sending off. With half an hour still to go, Madrid’s resistance seemed inevitably about to crack.
Afellay proves decisive
Barça nearly opened the scoring on 67 minutes, when Villa’s shot from the left was parried out by Casillas only as far as Pedro, whose header went agonisingly close. For his troubles, Pedro suffered a nasty knock as Marcelo stamped his leg and Afellay came on to replace him. The young Dutch winger made an almost immediate impact as he out sprinted Marcello in the box and centred at the near post for Messi to turn home and complete Barça’s first objective of an away goal.
Barça were now even more on top and they were looking for a second. It was Leo Messi - who else? - who rounded off the game with a brilliant piece of individual skill, slaloming through the Madrid defence and cleverly shooting to Casillas’s right to double the score and his own personal tally for the evening -a historic, unforgettable and brilliant end to a great night for Barça in Madrid.
Edited By Matthew Havor
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