Barcelona got off to an auspicious start against AC Milan in the second leg of the Round of 16 of Champions League on Tuesday evening at Camp Nou behind two impressive goals from superstar Lionel Messi to put the Catalans up at halftime, 2-0.
In the fifth minute, the Argentine forward accepted a short pass from Xavi just outside the box, and then delivered a stunning left-footed shot to the upper-left corner that Christian Abbiati could do nothing about.
It was questionable defending by AC Milan's central defenders, who didn’t seem to have an answer for the aggressive Catalan attack.
And Messi wasn’t done.
In the 40th minute, attacking midfielder Andres Iniesta found Messi on the right side, and he delivered again with a hard shot with his left foot from distance that escaped the outstretched arm of Abbiati.
The aggregate score is AC Milan 2, Barcelona 2. The match will go to extra time and then penalty kicks if the score remains the same.
AC Milan may feel fortunate to have not conceded several more goals in the first 45 minutes. In the 13th minute, Iniesta ripped a hard shot that Abbiati blocked into the woodwork, and Messi’s follow-up header hit the side netting. Barcelona have dominated ball possession (76 percent) and have taken more shots in a rather one-sided affair.
Milan also escaped without conceding a penalty kick, as two possible fouls in the box were not met by a whistle from referee Viktor Kassai.
Milan squandered a golden opportunity when M’Baye Niang had a breakaway chance in the 38th minute and hit the post. It was the lone legitimate chance for the visitors to get on the board.