Barcelona beat Shalke 04 to enter Champions League semi-finalsApril 10th, 2008 - 12:28 pm ICT by admin
Barcelona, April 10 (DPA) Barcelona edged their way into the semi-finals of the Champions League with another 1-0 win over Shalke 04, on a goal from Yaya Toure. The tight win Wednesday puts Barca into the semis on a 2-0 aggregate result, because they won 1-0 in Gelsenkirchen last Tuesday - and will give a little breathing space to embattled coach Frank Rijkaard.
In the semi-finals Barca will face Manchester United, who disposed of AS Roma in Wednesday’s other quarter-final.
Barca midfielder Xavi Hernandez said after the game, “They pressed us really hard in the first half, but we were better in the second, when they seemed to get tired.”
Xavi added that the semi-final against United would be “really handsome, because they like to play good football the same as us”.
Barca president Joan Laporta then said that “we are very happy to have achieved this…without several important players”, referring to South Americans Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Deco.
Laporta said that he was “fighting against the defeatism installed in certain sectors of the club”, in reference to his many opponents at the club.
“We need to be united,” he added, “in order to achieve what we all want: to get to the final.”
Schalke turned in a spirited display in the Camp Nou, in front of 8,000 of their own fans, but lacked the quality to break down a Barca defence well marshalled by Carles Puyol.
Mirko Slomka’s side made an aggressive side but failed to create any clear chances. In contrast, Xavi forced a sharp save from Manuel Neuer in the 12th minute, after being exquisitely put through by Andres Iniesta.
Barca always looked more dangerous and it was little surprise when they took the lead in the 43rd minute, thanks to a veritable comedy of errors in the German defence.
Teenager Bojan Krkic centred from the right, Schalke defender Marcelo Bordon badly sliced his clearance, team-mate Mladen Krstajic headed the ball off the line - but only for Toure to follow up and score with a left-foot volley.
The bizarre goal gave Barca the confidence they had lacked in the first half, and the hosts rediscovered part of their old flowing style after the interval.
Neuer, whose mistake in the first game gifted the match to Barcelona, but could do nothing to stop Toure’s shot, said he was disappointed that they had gone out.
“We are disappointed that we have gone out. We were just not lucky on the day and they had the luck that we were missing. We tried everything going forward but just missed using our chances.”
He said it made no sense to blame his defenders for the goal. “When the goal is scored it is too late to talk about it. We are a team and we win as a team and we lose as a team.”
The only bad news for Barca was that Puyol will miss the semi-final first leg after picking up another yellow card - and that Thierry Henry continues to be a sluggish shadow of the Arsenal idol of a few years ago.
Tags: aggressive side, andres iniesta, bordon, breathing space, camp nou, carles puyol, coach frank, comedy of errors, defeatism, frank rijkaard, german defence, joan laporta, lionel messi, manchester united, manuel neuer, semi finals, shalke 04, team mate, xavi hernandez, yaya toure