Skip to content

Lionel Messi double leads Barcelona past Milan in UEFA Champions League

Nov 6, 2013, 5:02 PM EDT

Spain Soccer Champions League AP

Four games scoreless led to jokes that Lionel Messi had forgotten how to score, and while those observations were tongue-in-cheek, Messi still quieted on Wednesday. A first half score from the spot and an insurance tally late gave the Argentine star his first two goals of the competition, helping Barcelona to a 3-1 win over Milan at the Nou Camp.

Sergio Busquets doubled Barcelona’s lead in the 39th minute before a Gerard Piqué own goal pulled Milan within one at halftime. The home side’s stifling possession game, however, limited the Rossoneri to one shot on goal, with a 92 percent pass completion rate ensuring Milan would rarely see the ball.

The victory moves Barcelona to 10 points in Group H, five ahead of second place Milan. They can clinch first place with a win next match day at Ajax (Nov. 26). That result combined with a Milan win at Celtic would also put the Italians into the knockout round.

As characteristic of the teams’ three other meetings this year, Barcelona dictated the game, but whereas Milan often starts applying pressure at the edge of their defensive third, today they quickly regressed much deeper. With a defense setting up just inside the penalty box behind midfielders holding their ground at the arc, the visitors were providing little resistance for Barcelona’s midfield.

When they did create turnovers, Milan would quickly move down their left, through the place vacated by Dani Alves. The tactic would come good near halftime, but over the first 45 minutes, its main virtues were wasting time, giving their defense some rest, and allowing their lines to reset.

In the 30th minute, though, that deep block cost them, if controversially so. Barcelona’s midfield saw no pressure before lofting a ball behind the defense for Neymar. Cutting in from the left, the Brazilian attacker tried to get inside right back Ignazio Abate for his chance but was eventually ridden to ground. The 50-50 call went against Milan when referee Milorad Mazic pointed to the spot, setting up Messi to end his scoreless run.

Six minutes later, Barcelona fans were treated to a rare set piece goal, with a Xavi Hernandez inswinger from the right finding an unmarked Sergio Busquets eight yards out. The midfielder’s glancing header beat Christian Abbiati for what would become the game-winning goal.

Milan pulled one back before half time, again attacking down the left flank. Just before the byline, Kaká tried to send a ball into the six-yard box, but an attempted block from Gerard Piqué deflected the pass into his own net, Victór Valdés jumping away from goal trying to play the cross that never came. Milan went into halftime down one.

In an often dull second half, Barcelona chose patience over pursuit, keeping the ball high while daring Milan to chose their one-goal deficit.

Eventually, Milan’s defense broke down. In the 83rd minute, Messi was allowed to play a one-two with Cesc Fábregas at the edge of the Milan area. Chipping over Abbiati as the Milan keeper came to challenge, Messi converted for his day’s second goal, giving Barcelona a 3-1 win.

It was a typical Barcelona performance, one that ended in a predictable win, but the news was not all bad for Milan. Thanks to Ajax’s win in Amsterdam over Celtic, the Rossoneri maintained second place in Group H, staying one-point clear of the Dutch champions. Win their next two, and Milan’s still going into the knockout round.

Scoring

Barcelona: 30′ (p.k.), 83′, Lionel Messi, 36′ Sergio Busquets

Milan: 45′ Piqué (o.g.)

Lineups

Barcelona: Victor Valdes; Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano, Adriano; Sergio Buquest, Xavi Hernández (88′ Alex Song), Andrés Iniesta (78′ Cesc Fábregas); Alexei Sánchez, Lionel Messi, Neymar (85′ Pedro)

Unused subs: Marc Martra, Pinto, Cristian Tello, Martín Montoya

Milan: Christian Abbiati; Ignzaio Abte, Cristian Zapata, Philippe Mexes, Urby Emanuelson; Andrea Poli (74′ Valter Birsa), Nigel de Jong, Ricardo Montovilo, Sulley Muntari; Kaká (84′ Alessandro Matri); Robinho (45′ Mario Balotelli)

Unused subs: 

Latest Posts
  1. Now flush with “Candy Crush” cash, Derby County aiming for Premier League return

    Sep 3, 2015, 9:39 PM EDT

    Derby County v Reading - Capital One Cup Third Round Getty Images

    As it turns out, Candy Crush was worth a lot of money. So much money, in fact, that Mel Morris bought his boyhood football club.

  2. Preview: USMNT to face Peru in tune-up for CONCACAF playoff vs. Mexico

    Sep 3, 2015, 8:37 PM EDT

    Panama v United States: Third Place - 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Panama v United States: Third Place - 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

    The USMNT returns to action for the first time since finishing fourth at the 2015 Gold Cup. Their playoff vs. Mexico is 37 days away.

  3. Italy’s Serie B to introduce “green cards” for good behavior this weekend

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Modena FC v AC Cesena - Serie B Playoffs Getty Images

    This weekend, referees will begin dishing out green cards, which mean absolutely nothing.

  4. EURO 2016 qualifying roundup: Iceland beat Netherlands (again), are all but qualified

    Sep 3, 2015, 5:55 PM EDT

    Gylfi Sigurdsson, Iceland & Swansea City FC Gylfi Sigurdsson, Iceland & Swansea City FC

    Tiny, tiny Iceland are all but qualified for next summer’s EUROs after beating the might Netherlands…again.

  5. England U-21s 1-0 USA U-23s: Defeat in England as Olympic qualifying looms

    Sep 3, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT

    Mario Rodriguez, USMNT U-23 Mario Rodriguez, USMNT U-23

    With Olympic qualifying less than a month away, final tune-ups are underway for the US U-23 squad.

  6. If you’ve ever criticized Jurgen Klinsmann or his USMNT, you don’t understand soccer

    Sep 3, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT

    Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT

    Jurgen Klinsmann’s latest comments confirm what we’ve assumed all along: he believes he is immune to criticism.

  7. VIDEO: Should we be worried about Manchester United after huge overhaul?

    Sep 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Red Devils have ripped apart their title-winning team from 2013. Will things settle down anytime soon?

  8. How will USMNT line up in friendly vs. Peru?

    Sep 3, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    Cameron-Austria

    Three options for the starting XI at RFK Stadium on Friday.

  9. Bayern Munich to set up refugee “training camp” as humanitarian crisis deepens

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwe2ymq2mgvlzdu1owi2mjvkzmiwogy1ztfinwfjy2q5 AP

    German champs taking a stand to help the growing number of asylum seekers arriving in Munich.

  10. VIDEO: Cicerone scores another screamer in college soccer

    Sep 3, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT

    Source: @BullsMensSoccer Source: @BullsMensSoccer

    After his game-winner from halfway last season, Cicerone is at it again.

  11. USMNT move up one spot in latest FIFA World rankings

    Sep 3, 2015, 8:40 AM EDT

    Michael Bradley, USMNT Michael Bradley, USMNT

    Klinsmann’s side move up, but remain out of the top 20.

  12. Premier League Deadline Day podcast

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:57 PM EDT

    DeGea Getty Images

    The NBC Deadline Day show is here in podcast form.

  13. Martial transfer fee from Manchester United trickles down to French lower tier team

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT

    Martial Getty Images

    A fraction of the transfer fee has made its way to the lower division team in France that helped mold Anthony Martial into the $55 million player he is today.

  14. Men In Blazers Podcast: Deadline Day recap and Chelsea loses again

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:18 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Rog and Davo break down Chelsea’s loss to Crystal Palace and Swansea’s stylish win over Manchester United. Plus, a recap of transfer deadline day.

  15. Klinsmann confirms Brad Guzan will start Confederations Cup playoff in goal

    Sep 2, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT

    Guzan Getty Images

    Tim Howard looked good for Everton last weekend, but the U.S. coach says it’s too close to the Mexico game to make a change.

  16. Ashley Cole is quickly being phased out at Roma

    Sep 2, 2015, 5:42 PM EDT

    Cole Getty Images

    The former Chelsea defender is no longer listed on the team’s website and was left out of both the club’s domestic and European squads.

Featured video

PST Extra: Analyzing transfer deadline day