Nervy Barcelona and dominant Bayern advance to semis
LONDON (Reuters) - Barcelona flirted with a shock Champions League exit before moving into the semi-finals with an away-goals victory over Paris St Germain while Bayern Munich completed a comfortable aggregate win over Juventus on Wednesday.
Strong favourites to progress having drawn the away leg 2-2, Barcelona left Lionel Messi on the bench and looked in danger of paying the ultimate price when Javier Pastore scored with a neat finish to put PSG in the box seat.
Messi, nursing a hamstring injury, was summoned into action with half an hour to play and was involved in the buildup as Pedro rifled home left-footed from the edge of the area after 71 minutes to send Barcelona into the semis for the sixth straight season.
"Messi made a big effort to be with us. He's a very important player for the team. He worked very hard this week and was able to help out the team when he came on," Pedro told Spanish television after the 1-1 home draw.
"We want to thank him, and say congratulations for everything he did to get himself ready for the game and to help the team. He's the number one. We felt his presence when he came on the pitch, he lifted us, and we got the result."
There was no such drama at the Juventus stadium where Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro scored in the second half as Bayern completed a 2-0 win on the night and 4-0 aggregate success.
Mandzukic scored with a stooping header from close range after 64 minutes to effectively end the contest and Pizarro nonchalantly rolled the ball home in injury time as a final flourish for last year's beaten finalists.
"We came under pressure, then we had our chances but we stayed alert, apart from the opening 15 minutes. The fans created a sensational atmosphere," captain Philipp Lahm told German television.
"I think the best four teams in Europe are in the semis with two German ones so I think we should all be happy about that."
The remaining two semi-final spots were taken by Real Madrid, who thwarted a valiant Galatasaray fightback to progress on Tuesday, and Borussia Dortmund who scored two very late goals to knock out Malaga in stunning fashion.
The semi-final draw is on Friday with the first legs being played on April 23 and 24. Wembley will host the final on May 25.
(Editing by Mark Meadows)
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When Iker Casillas triumphantly hoisted the Henri Delaunay Cup aloft in Kiev after Spain claimed a second consecutive European crown in 2012, he could scarcely have believed that within two years he would be roundly whistled by fans at Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium. Full Article