Messi, Xavi steer Barcelona into Champions League quarters | sports | Hindustan Times
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Messi, Xavi steer Barcelona into Champions League quarters

Barcelona cruised into the quarter-finals of the Champions League Tuesday with a memorable 3-1 home win over defensive Arsenal.

sports Updated: Mar 09, 2011 14:44 IST

Barcelona cruised into the quarter-finals of the Champions League Tuesday with a memorable 3-1 home win over defensive Arsenal.

FIFA World Player Lionel Messi scored twice for Barca, veteran playmaker Xavi got the other goal. Barca's Sergio Busquets gave Arsenal brief hope with a luckless own goal.

Barca went into the quarters on a 4-3 aggregate, after losing 2-1 in the first leg in London.

Arsenal left the Camp Nou complaining about Italian referee Massimo Busacca, who harshly sent off Robin Van Persie and gave Barca a debatable penalty, from which Messi scored the winning goal.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia said, "There were a couple of important decisions which went against us tonight. We are annoyed because these decisions changed the game.

Barca defender Eric Abidal, for his part said: "It was a very difficult game for us, especially after they scored. But we played well and showed our character.

"It was a little easier for us when they were down to 10 men. But even so, it was still very hard."

When asked which team he would prefer to face in the quarter-finals, Abidal opted for Lyon, his hometown club.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger started with a defensive lineup, keeping Nicklas Bendtner and Andrei Arshavin on the bench, which left Van Persie completely alone upfield.

Barca struggled to beak down the packed Arsenal defence in the first half, and the visitors almost got to half-time at 0-0. However, they were were hit by a moment of magic from Messi three minutes into stoppage time.

Andres Iniesta fed Messi going into the penalty area and the impish Argentine deceived goalkeeper Manuel Almunia with two classy touches before volleying in the first goal.

Almunia had come on to replace young Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who suffered an early finger injury saving a long-range free-kick from Dani Alves.