BARCELONA: Never play Barcelona during a Papal Conclave. Milan became the latest opposition to discover that critical truth as they lost 4-0 in Nou Camp and crashed out of the Champions League second round 4-2 on aggregate.
Barcelona beat Real Madrid by 4-0 in 1958 and Las Palmas by the same margin in 1978. Leo Messi struck twice this time with the other goals coming David Villa and Jordi Alba.
The other tie saw Turkey’s Galatasaray win, surprisingly, by 3-2 away to Schalke and 4-3 overall as Didier Drogba maintained his jinx over German opposition – after striking decisively for Chelsea against Bayern in Munich in last season’s Champions League Final.
Barcelona went ahead in the fifth minute thanks to Messi’s brilliant curling effort and the mesmerising Argentina forward levelled the tie on aggregate five minutes before halftime with a powerful low drive.
Barca ruthlessly dominated, with Milan struggling to get the ball out of their own half for long periods, and David Villa struck a third 10 minutes after the break before Jordi Alba netted a breakaway goal in the second minute of added time.
Barca’s win makes them the first team in the Champions League to ever overturn a two-goal first leg deficit without the benefit of an away goal while only four sides had successfully fought back from a deficit of more than one goal.
“We started really fired up, as you have seen,” Villa told Spanish television. “The early goal helped us a lot, but it was something we looked for from the first minute,” added the Spain forward, who has struggled for form since returning from a broken leg sustained at the end of 2011.
“We believed we could do it from the first minute, in fact from the final whistle of the last game,” he said. “We are delighted for the fans. We always believed we could do it. For them, and with them, we have done it.”
Barcelona can now look ahead to the last eight after keeping alive their dream of a third European crown in five years and will find out their opponents in Friday’s draw.
Milan, third in Serie A, return home to focus on qualifying for the Champions League again next season after coming remarkably close to upsetting the pre-tournament favourites.
In the other tie Galatasaray struck twice before halftime and survived a second-half barrage to oust Schalke.
Galvanised by a superb swerving strike by Hamit Altintop against his old club, the Turkish side dominated the first half, held on for grim life in the second and snatched the last 16 second leg 3-2 with a stoppage time goal on the break against bewildered opponents.
Their 4-3 aggregate win justified their decision to splash out on big-name signings Wesley Sneijder and Drogba in January while Schalke became the first German side to exit the Champions League proper this term.
With Borussia Dortmund already through and Bayern Munich set to clinch a last-eight place on Wednesday when they host Arsenal with a 3-1 lead in the bag, Germany’s three teams had been in imperious form, losing only one match between them before Tuesday.
“It’s incredibly disappointing for us,” said team captain Benedikt Hoewedes, whose team are fourth in the Bundesliga and face a battle to qualify for the Champions League next season.
Ivory Coast forward Drogba, who missed a penalty in a league defeat against Genclerbirligi on Friday, was hugely influential on his favourite Champions League stage after his short stint in Chinese football.
The 35-year-old triumphed in last season’s competition with Chelsea after scoring a late equaliser in the final against Bayern and netting the winning spot kick in the shootout.
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