Lionel Messi strikes to send Barcelona past Shakhtar Donetsk

Lionel Messi’s first-half goal ensure that this tie, which looked over after the first leg, when Shakhtar were obliterated in the Camp Nou, reached a tame conclusion.

Messi’s goal, his 48th of the season, set up a probable semi-final tie against their Spanish rivals Real Madrid, barring a miracle comeback from Tottenham Hotspur – 4-0 down after the first leg – on Wednesday night.

Shakhtar, who knocked out Roma in the previous round, started well and dominated the early stages of the game while Barcelona lay back and soaked up the pressure from the Ukrainian side without ever really being troubled.

But, as with every side that has faced Barcelona this season, Shakhtar learned the hard lesson that if you cannot punish the Catalans when you are on top, then they will punish you. And so it proved just before half-time.

Dani Alves found space on the right hand side. He squared the ball to Messi and the Argentinian danced around a few defenders before slotting the ball past Andriy Pyatov in the Shakhtar net. It was his ninth goal in 10 Champions league games this season.

The second half brought more of the same from both sides. Shakhtar continued to press, and required Víctor Valdés to pull off some good saves in the visitors’ goal. But Barcelona were once more able to contain with Messi again the star of the show. Barcelona are now in the semi-finals for the fourth successive season and face the prospect of playing Real Madrid four times in different competitions over the coming weeks.


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