Barcelona advance to Champs League final

by AFP on May 04, 2011

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Barcelona sent Real Madrid out of the Champions League crying foul after a second-leg 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp saw them claim their semi-final 3-1 on aggregate.

Barcelona could now face Manchester United in a repeat of the 2009 final - which Barcelona won - as Sir Alex Ferguson's men hold a 2-0 lead over Schalke going into Wednesday's second-leg in Manchester.

Needing to overturn a 2-0 home defeat from the first leg, Real had to attack but they never managed a sustained threat on the Barca goal and fell behind to a Pedro strike in the 54th minute.

Marcelo replied 10 minutes later but it was only a consolation goal for Real.

Jose Mourinho's side found it hard to be gracious in defeat, with Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo repeating his coach's first-leg claims that Barcelona were favoured by referees.

Ronaldo - who was outshone by Barcelona's two-time world player of the year Lionel Messi over the two legs - was especially incensed by the decision of Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere to rule out a Gonzalo Higuain goal early in the second-half.

De Bleeckere - one of several referees to be targeted by Mourinho's outburst following the first leg last week - decided that Ronaldo had fouled Javier Mascherano in the lead-up to the goal.

It appeared harsh as Barca defender Gerard Pique had pushed Ronaldo initially.

Had the goal stood it would have given Real a 1-0 lead in the game and a real chance of progressing at Barca's expense.

"It (trying to overhaul Barcelona's first leg lead) was Mission Impossible 4," said the 26-year-old Ronaldo.

"We knew what was going to happen. We were used to it after the first leg. Higuain's goal was fine.

"Once again we have to live with that. (On the lead-up to the goal) Pique pushed me and I fell on top of Mascherano, who when he played in England (for West Ham and Liverpool) would not have fallen to the ground like that, but here he does it like everybody else.

"There was nothing wrong with the goal, that could have altered the course of the match but the referee didn't want to see it that way.

"Those who know about football know that Barcelona are very well protected. We just have to live with these injustices."

Mourinho, who was suspended after being sent from the bench last week, chose to stay at the team hotel and watch the match on television.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola praised Real for a good performance but revelled in his side's qualification.

"It is a total success," said Guardiola, who in his maiden season in 2008/09 delivered the treble including a Champions League success over Manchester United.

"I am very proud of my players. We won our first Champions League title in the old Wembley (in 1992) and we are going to try and win our fourth one there at the new one."

Guardiola admitted that the last few weeks which has seen Barca and Real play each other four times - Real taking the Kings Cup while they drew their league game and Barca won the first leg of this clash 2-0 - had been exhausting mentally and physically.

"These have been 20 very hard days, filled with tension. We have eliminated a superb team, a really great team."